Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced on June 3 that he is leading an effort to secure $100 million over four years in federal funding for a multistate effort to control hydrilla in the Connecticut River watershed.
In an event at Harbor Park in Middletown, Blumenthal said he is seeking an urgent fiscal year 2022 appropriation for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Aquatic Nuisance Research Program and the Aquatic Plant Control Program to create a task force to control Hydrilla verticillata.
The invasive plant has spread exponentially throughout the Connecticut River, from Agawam, MA., to Essex, CT. The hydrilla in the Connecticut River has been shown through genetic testing to be a type not previously found in the United States. Hydrilla poses a great risk to the wetland ecosystems, public drinking water supplies and recreational and tourism industries in New England and New York state, according to information from Blumenthal’s office.
The task force would be centered in Connecticut and led by the Army Corps, the Aquatic Invasive Species Program of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It would create and implement a strategic Plan of Action that would:
- prevent further spread
- mitigate hydrilla’s affects
- eradicate where feasible
- monitor to ensure rapid response to future occurrences
Connecticut Sea Grant has joined 14 other government agencies, environmental and community groups thus far in support of Blumenthal’s efforts. Connecticut Sea Grant’s letter of support can be found here. An informational article from Sen. Blumenthal’s office can be found here.