As the saying goes – “Houston we have a problem.” Water Soldier is spreading down the Trent River towards the Bay of Quinte. It was discovered in the Trent River in 2008, near the hamlet of Trent River near Highway 30, since that time it has continued its march down stream. This August, during a monitoring blitz it was found between Glen Ross and Frankford. This plant will have a major impact on the ecosystem of the Bay affecting the fishery, boating, and other recreational uses. Potentially, causing hefty financial implications for municipalities and tourism operators.
Water Soldier is a cold tolerant invasive perennial aquatic plant that is native to Europe and northwest Asia. It is a submerged aquatic plant which has 40cm long sword shape leaves with serrated edges that are sharp enough to cut swimmers or anyone handling the plant. It becomes buoyant during the summer months forming dense mats of floating vegetation that choke out native species and are so thick that some boats can’t move through the mats. As the leaves mature, they become waterlogged and the plant sinks below the surface. The mature plants produce offsets, like a household spider plant.
The Bay of Quinte is prime habitat as the plant grows in standing or slow flowing waterbodies up to depths of five metres. This plant will have a major impact on the ecosystem, because of the dense mats of floating vegetation it creates. As well, it has the potential to alter surrounding water chemistry, which may harm phytoplankton (the base of the food chain) and other aquatic organisms.
What has be done to stop the spread of this invader? Since 2008, a number of research, control and management strategies have been undertaken to better understand the biology and management of this invasive plant. In 2014, federal and provincial agencies and organizations implemented a control program, using a herbicide. Due to the size of the infestation, control efforts have focused on addressing the source populations and preventing further downstream dispersal of the plants. Another proposed herbicide control of the identified colonies will occur in the fall of 2018.
Boaters can learn to identify the plants and avoid infested areas, reduce boat speeds so the wake doesn’t dislodge plants and offsets, and inspect their boat, trailer, and equipment to ensure they don’t move the plant to another waterbody.
Water Soldier was originally sold as decorative plant for water gardens and aquariums, which is probably how it ended up in the river. Today, it is illegal to sell or possess Water Soldier under the Invasive Species Act. You can find out more about water soldier at www.invadingspecies.com or report a sighting at 1-800-563-7711.
There will be Public Information Sessions to discuss details of monitoring and proposed control efforts, which the public is invited to attend on:
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Campbellford Resource Centre
65 Bridge Street, Campbellford
Open House: 3pm – 7pm
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Quinte West Public Library
7 Creswell Drive, Trenton
Open House: 3pm – 6pm
Additionally, you can get more information on the project, to submit comments or to request further notice, by contacting: Holly Simpson, Management Biologist, Peterborough District MNRF (705) 755-2001 or via email FishPTBO@ontario.ca.