County to spend $90,000 in effort to kill coontail in lake
In an effort to get control of the growth and spread of coontail grass in Tired Creek Lake, the Grady County Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday night to spend up to $90,000 for spraying 450 acres of the 960 acre lake with a weed killing chemical.
The Grady County Lake Authority, which met June 7, had recommended spraying 300 acres at a low bid of $200 per acre from Southern Land & Water, but on Tuesday Lake Authority Executive Director Mike Binion said the infected area had grown to approximately 450 acres.
Chairman Ray Prince cast the tie breaking vote with Vice Chairman T.D. David and Commissioner LaFaye Copeland in support of paying for the spraying and Commissioners June Knight and Keith Moye voting against.
“As much as I hate to spend the money, we got to do it,” Chairman Prince said.
Binion said in March there was no sign of coontail in the lake but by May approximately 300 acres were impacted.
Chairman Prince said recent rains had washed fertilizer from agricultural fields north of the lake and that fertilizer had flowed into the lake and accelerated the growth of the native grass.
Allen Dennard of Southern Land & Water is recommending spraying 100 acre sections and then waiting up to 10 days between treatments before spraying the next section in order to prevent any possible fish kills.
Binion said it was also recommended that the county stock the lake with grass eating carp, but officials say they are $12 each. Dennard agreed that carp would be a desired supplement to spraying to kill the grass.
Commissioner June Knight asked if Dennard would guarantee the spraying would kill the grass, which the vendor said he could not do. “There are too many variables,” Dennard said.
County officials acknowledge the county may have to spray the lake more than once to get control of the coontail grass.
“What if we just spray 100 acres instead of 300?” Vice Chairman T.D. David asked. “That would be like mowing half your lawn,” Dennard replied.
Commissioner Knight questioned where the money would come from to pay for the spraying and asked when commissioners were going to stop spending money and prioritize county spending.
Accounting Manager Donna Johnson said the only source of revenue would be from the county’s cash reserves.
Johnson told commissioners if the board continues to spend money from reserves and do not replenish the account she said the county would soon not have any reserves left.
Binion said the county was trying to attract development around the lake and if the lake is covered in grass it would be less than desirable to developers.
Chairman Prince agreed and said if the grass is so thick you can walk across the lake the sale of lots would be a “tough sell.”
“I hate to spend the money, but we got to spend it if we want development to come around the lake,” Commissioner Copeland said. “We have no choice,” she added.
The board did not approve the recommendation of the lake authority to hire a part-time employee to assist with marketing, tourism and social media for the lake.
However, the board did approve the hiring of a part-time employee to work 30 hours a week for eight weeks to complete a Creel Survey, which is required by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in order for state game wardens to enforce tougher local fishing limits than what is permitted under state law.
According to Binion, once the Creel Survey is completed, it would be submitted to the DNR board for its approval. Once approved, game wardens could enforce the tighter restrictions proposed by the lake authority and adopted by the county commission.