Guest op: Milfoil, a silent menace | Peloza

Four years ago, my wife and I visited friends at Vantage on the Columbia River. This was my first exposure to Eurasian water milfoil, an aquatic, plantlike weed that thrives in freshwater lakes, rivers and other water bodies.

Milfoil impacts aquatic ecosystems, forms dense canopies that are invasive to native vegetation, limits habitat for waterfowl, fish and other wildlife and alters water quality by raising the pH factor. It also decreases oxygen and increases water temperature in lakes, creates stagnant water and yields breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Dense milfoil also has caused swimmers to become entangled and drown.

Milfoil affects power generation in dams by clogging intake pipes and pumps, causing the federal government and private sources to expend millions of dollars every year on needless maintenance and repair.

At this writing, milfoil is embedded in the water ways of Lake Tapps, and also is found in other lakes in our state, as well as in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, Maryland and New York, to name a few.

The Cascade Water Alliance (CWA), which owns Lake Tapps, has had several public meetings on its milfoil eradication plan. From my sources of information, CWA has begun its chemical process in managing the invasive milfoil to the tune of several hundred thousands of dollars.

The City of Auburn is a member of the National League of Cities (NLC) that has offices in Washington, D.C. Several years ago, I was appointed to the Energy, Environment & Natural Resources (EENR) Steering Committee, one of seven NLC major committees that advocate for city and regional issues.

At a recent EENR fall meeting, I introduced a resolution (crafted in collaboration with CWA) on milfoil, its negative impact to the environment and the need of federal funding assistance to communities dealing with the aquatic milfoil infestations. The resolution was unanimously approved.

The next step in this process is to introduce the resolution to the NLC Board of Directors at a winter meeting in December. Generally, resolutions recommended by the sponsoring committee are approved and the resolution becomes a NLC policy. Once it is a policy, the NLC and other entities can lobby Congress for appropriate grant funding and research to help with the eradication and management of this invasive aquatic milfoil.

Reach Auburn City Councilmember Bill Peloza at bpeloza@auburnwa.gov.

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