Water chestnuts, the invasive water plant on the Oswego River

Water chestnuts, shown above, is an invasive species negatively impacting any body of water in which they proliferate due to their high reproductive capacity.

The Oswego River is a beautiful resource for our community. Boating and fishing are both very popular activities through at least three seasons.

The invasive water chestnuts that form large mats over the water surface make these activities difficult or even impossible in some locations.

Decomposition of the large volume of plants may also contribute to lower levels of dissolved oxygen in shallower waters. Low levels of oxygen adversely affect the natural inhabitants of these waters, creating additional problems. Native plants are disrupted, fish reproduction can be hindered, fishing and the use of boats becomes impossible.  The drifting rosettes have also caused clogging problems with the water intakes of the canal locks, hydro stations and other water intakes along the river.

An effective way of combating the chestnuts and keeping the river clear, before the large mats develop, is hand pulling. Where the pulling is done on a yearly basis, water chestnuts can be kept under control and the waterways open.

Where the large mats have developed, an aquatic herbicide is needed to control their growth.

Tourism and marine recreation contribute to a large part of the economic stability of our county. The Oswego River helps contribute to these economic returns.

The Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District and volunteers have worked hard to keep the Oswego River’s waters clear of the water chestnuts.

One water chestnut can produce multiple nutlets. If allowed to ripen and settle in the riverbed, the nutlet will then sprout growing new chestnuts the following season or in the coming years, creating new mats of the water chestnuts.

Anyone in their canoe, kayak or boat along the shoreline can help. By hand pulling the top rosette with enough of the stem, making sure no new rosettes are forming on the stem, the water chestnuts can be eliminated or reduced in the area.

The key to success is timely pulling, usually in July, to help keep an area clear of the water chestnuts.

For more information and questions you can contact Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation district at 315-592-9663.

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