The season is approaching for Lake Athens residents to start their treatments for vegetation.
In 2020, Permit applications will be accepted from March 2 through June 1.
At the direction of the Texas Legislature, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Department of Agriculture and TPWD have developed a Statewide Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan to guide decision making regarding nuisance aquatic vegetation in public water. The TDA regulates pesticide use in the State of Texas, and TCEQ regulates water for human consumption, while TPWD manages fish and wildlife habitat.
Texas Parks & Wildlife dictates how and what types of vegetation treatments can be used on public waters in the State of Texas. Because of this, all vegetation treatments must be approved by a TPWD biologist, for mechanical, biological, chemical, or environmental intervention treatments.
All treatments must also be approved by the Athens Municipal Water Authority. To be effective, herbicide treatments should begin after water temperature reaches 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additional information on the regulations is available in the Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan Guide for Lake Athens 2020, which can be found on the AMWA website.
According to AMWA, exotic aquatic vegetation has been present in Lake Athens since 1995 when hydrilla was first discovered in 1995, but coverage has been less than 125 acres since 2011.
Maximum coverage of all vegetation types, 746 acres, occurred in summer 2011. Prolonged drought from 2011 through 2013 caused the water level to drop exposing over 500 acres of reservoir bottom.
In summer of 2018, the total aquatic plant coverage was 365 acres, which is about 21% of the lake's surface area. That percentage is within the target range of 20-40% for optimum fish production.
In February 2017, TPWD and AMWA representatives met with members of the Lake Athens Property Owners Association to discuss how property owners could file Aquatic Vegetation Treatment Proposals for shorefront vegetation control. By the end of the initial chemical treatment period that May, individual chemical treatments for approximately 150 shore-front properties had been conducted removing approximately 65 acres of primarily native aquatic vegetation.