Lake Havasu’s underwater vegetation grows fastest during the region’s summer months, and that bloom can be a problem for boaters.
According to Lake Havasu City Water Resource Coordinator Doyle Wilson, Havasu’s sunlight and summer heat contribute significantly to the growth of underwater vegetation in the lake. As city officials attempt to match the lake bottom for an upcoming dredging project, Wilson remarked Monday that vegetation has grown thick.
“If it gets caught in a propeller it can get stuck and the engine can overheat,” Wilson said. “Right now, there isn’t much of a problem except for when that vegetation dies and detaches from the bottom. There will be a lot of it floating up on the surface by fall, and that’s when it can cause problems.”
According to Wilson, the invasive quagga mussels that inhabit Lake Havasu have contributed to the growth of underwater vegetation, allowing that vegetation to spread deeper into the lake than before. The mussels reproduce at a rapid pace, with each female capable of producing a million offspring per year. Those mussels, collectively, are capable of absorbing minerals that have long kept the lake’s deeper areas relatively free from sunlight.
“The mussels clarify the water and let sunlight deeper into the lake,” Wilson said. “Now the plants are expanding into deeper parts of the lake.”
According to Wilson, the underwater plant growth isn’t dangerous to Havasu’s underwater ecosystem, and can even provide a habitat for the region’s fish species.
Lake Havasu Marine Association President Alan Oleson says the underwater vegetation is a long-endured nuisance for the area’s boaters, however.
“For pontoon boats, it can stop your propeller blade,” Oleson said. “You have to lift your propeller up and clean it out, and the (vegetation) is pretty much wherever you go. Watercraft that really have problems are waverunners … that vegetation can plug up the engine entirely.”
According to Oleson, the spread of vegetation hasn’t only caused mechanical problems, but has marred some of boaters’ favorite landmarks as well.
“It’s a big nuisance,” Oleson said. “Nobody likes it, and some people are pretty ticked. In the past three or four years, the Sandbar has become so overgrown with grass … it’s ruined some of the places people used to go to. And it’s going to continue to be there, as far as I know. Then when it dies at the end of summer, it’s going to float up and no one wants to get close to it.”
Chad Whetten, who operates a boat rental business in the Bridgewater Channel, had to pull his business’s “bumper boats” from the water this week as result.
“It’s because of the grass,” he said Monday. “I’m letting them dry today so I can blast them out tomorrow. When the grass grows underwater, the (bumper boats) can’t run. I can’t kill it … I just let it die and fish it out, then I’ll put the boats back in September … they just can’t go through the grass.”
According to Wilson, Lake Havasu City owns an underwater weed-harvester that could be fielded to remove the lake’s aquatic vegetation once it grows closer to the surface.