January 31, 2011
MINIMIZING THE SPREAD OF AQUATIC NUISANCE SPECIES
By: Janet L. Kaminski Leduc, Senior Legislative Attorney
You asked what the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has done to make sure that Connecticut's lakes are protected from aquatic nuisance species. You also asked (1) if funds are available to municipalities interested in putting up a boat washing facility at a lake's launch point and (2) whether DEP provides signage to inform boaters of the danger of spreading aquatic nuisance species if boats are not washed.
DEP has taken various steps to protect Connecticut's lakes from aquatic nuisance species, including educating boaters on the dangers of such species and how to prevent their spread.
DEP is not aware of any funding source for a municipal boat washing facility. DEP further states that such facilities at boat launches are not cost effective because the necessary infrastructure (e.g., hoses, pipes, etc.) is not available at the boat launches.
Lastly, DEP has provided certain signs throughout the state. Specifically, DEP's Boating Division has placed signs at the Twin Lakes, Lakes Lillinonah and Zoar, and surrounding water bodies informing boaters that zebra mussels had been discovered at these named lakes.
The signs also inform boaters how to clean their boats and trailers to prevent the spread of zebra mussels. (For more information about zebra mussels, see OLR report 2011-R-0013.)
Additionally, DEP has placed signs at lakes statewide explaining the ramifications of non-native aquatic weeds infecting Connecticut waters. The signs inform boaters how to inspect their boats and trailers for such weeds.
DEP ACTIONS REGARDING AQUATIC NUISANCE SPECIES
According to DEP, its Boating Division takes seriously its duty to educate the public about problems associated with aquatic nuisance species and how to prevent their spread. The division has found that educating boaters is the best defense against the spread of such species.
By law, it is illegal to transport a vessel or trailer without inspecting for and properly disposing of vegetation. Any person who violates the law is subject to a fine of up to $100 (CGS § 15-180). The Boating Division includes in mandatory boating safety education classes information about the danger of and how to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species. By law, the mandatory classes include instruction on how to (1) inspect a vessel and trailer for the presence of vegetation and (2) properly dispose of it (CGS § 15-140e(g)).
DEP also issues a Boater's Guide, which includes information about aquatic nuisance species and minimizing their spread (see http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/boating/boating_guide/part4.pdf). To prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species, DEP instructs boaters to:
1. inspect boats and trailers, removing all aquatic organisms (including zebra mussels and any aquatic plants);
2. drain the motor, wet well, and bilge on land before leaving the water body;
3. flush the engine's cooling system with hot water;
4. apply antifouling material such as paint and films to boat hulls, trim tabs, water ports, and transducers to discourage aquatic growth; and
5. avoid boating through dense beds of aquatic plants.
Additionally, since 2003, DEP boating education assistants have talked with boaters at state boat launches about clean boating practices, including aquatic nuisance species prevention. They also provide vessel safety checks. In 2011, DEP plans to enhance the Boating Education Assistant Program by expanding the invasive monitoring portion of the program. This will include providing training to lake associations and others that want to help monitor boats for the presence of aquatic nuisance species.