What's Happening In the Cayuga Lake Watershed?

Example Happenings

There are always lots of things happening that can affect the watershed and water quality. The pesky plant Hydrilla and climate change are two current examples.


Hydrilla is an invasive water weed, which means that it does not normally grow in the area. It looks a lot like a native plant that grows in the watershed called elodea. If you look at the pictures below though, you’ll notice that hydrilla has 5 to 7 leaves in each “whorl,” or circle of leaves, while elodea only has 3.  

Hydrilla may seem like just a plant, but it can cause lots of problems if it grows here. Hydrilla grows very fast, very deep, and very close together. It can make thick tangles of weeds in just a few days. 

The big tangle of hydrilla makes it so that people and animals have a hard time moving in the water. Hydrilla also blocks the sunlight from other plants in the water, which kills them. That also takes away food from animals that eat those local plants. 

So far, Hydrilla has only been seen in the Cayuga Inlet, and not anywhere else in Cayuga Lake. Hydrilla spreads very easily, and if you break it, the broken pieces float away to make new hydrilla plants!If you think you see hydrilla, you might want to pull it out of the water to help, but really you shouldn’t; breaking it could make even more hydrilla! 

If you think you have found hydrilla, show it to an adult. They can help to take a picture of the weed and go to www.stophydrilla.com to find out how to report the hydrilla. 

If your family has a boat, it is important to clean it before and after putting it in the water. Even canoes and kayaks! Hydrilla and other invasive species could hide in or get caught on your boat, and could use it to take a ride to a new part of the lake or to a whole new lake. If you find any of these hitchhikers on your boat, you should throw them on dry land so that they dry out and don’t cause problems in the water. Some boat launches even have special boxes for drying out plants like hydrilla. See if you can spot one on your next boating trip.

 Climate Change

Climate Change is sometimes also called “Global Warming,” because the earth is warmer than it used to be. Climate Change is a better name though, because the change also causes unusually cold weather and lots of unusual and extreme weather like extra tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. 

Climate change is happening because people use a lot of what are called fossil fuels (things like coal and oil/gas) to make energy and electricity. Using fossil fuels also makes what are called”greenhouse gases.” The greenhouse gases act like a big blanket over the earth, and hold in heat from the sun. That makes the world’s temperature rise making glaciers melt and causing unusual weather. 

Saving energy by turning off lights when you leave the room, and unplugging electronics when you are not using them is a small, easy way for you to help slow climate change.