Cascade Water Alliance this week began sending crews out to Lake Tapps to in an effort that is expected to take about three weeks.
This is the third year of the milfoil eradication program and the first year there will be no herbicide applications in the lake.
Speaking for Cascade, the owner of Lake Tapps, Betty Spieth-Croll said the first two years were successful enough in eliminating large sections of milfoil but the invasive plant has not been eradicated. This year, they are asking the public to help locate it, too.
Cascade is asking residents to document milfoil on their property. At present, experts have received several reports but upon further investigation found they were just a native species.
The definition of a 'weed' is a plant out of place, and there are a number of native plants that can also grow to the point where they become a nuisance, said Terry McNabb, an aquatic biologist with AquaTechnex who this week was helping a dive team remove milfoil and survey the water for growth locations.
"One guy's 'weed' is habitat to somebody else," he said. "The key thing is that one is an invasive species."
The Eurasian milfoil has been designated a noxious weed by the state Department of Ecology, and as the lake's owner, Cascade is obligated to remove it, said Spieth-Croll.
Furthermore, uncontrolled milfoil has potentially catastrophic consequences for both the human beings who use the lake for recreation and for the balance of the native ecology, said McNabb.
A three-year-old boy in Skagit County drowned a few years ago when he fell off a dock into a bed of milfoil and, though a life guard was present, it took rescuers 15 to 20 minutes to find him because the plants were so thick and made it hard to see, McNabb said.
"It can dramatically alter habitat, water quality," he said of the lake ecology. "You can have daily dissolved oxygen fluctuations where it's really high during the day and it'll completely crash down to almost zero at night, and you get huge fish kills from that."
Cascade continues to ask residents and those who frequent the lake to document milfoil on their property and if you think you see have milfoil, take a picture and send it to email@example.com. Staff will follow up with each individual report.