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Water Management Associations
Protect State Waters by Properly Disposing of Water Garden Plants
Bag it, seal it, take it out with the trash.

That's the best way to dispose of a nonnative plant if you need to clean out your water garden before colder weather sets in, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources experts say. Water garden plants are often discovered in Wisconsin waters this time of year when pond owners reduce plant numbers or drain ponds before winter.

The problem is that nonnative aquatic plants can quickly spread, harming fish and wildlife habitat, as well as limiting recreation, said Susan Graham, a DNR lakes biologist. A recent case in point involved water lettuce, a prohibited invasive species that was discovered in Lake Mendota in late July.

Although water lettuce isn't thought to be able to survive a Wisconsin winter, discoveries of water lettuce in the Mississippi River in consecutive years suggest that seeds could overwinter. Additionally, its rapid growth means that it can reach nuisance densities in a single growing season.

Another common water garden species, water hyacinth, is also a recent addition to the prohibited invasive species list. It, too, has been discovered in Wisconsin waterways recently -- at a public pond in La Crosse and in Arkdale Lake in central Wisconsin. In both instances, quick and organized responses from partner groups helped remove all of the plants before they could spread.

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