ITHACA, N.Y. — The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $900,000 for an initiative to fight invasive species that threaten waterways. More than half of that amount will go toward eradicating the invasive aquatic plant Hydrilla in Cayuga Lake.

Sen. Chuck Schumer announced the funding award Friday. In April, Schumer met with local officials to announce that he was pursuing EPA grant funding. The funding will go toward creating a multi-year strategy to combat Hydrilla, which threatens Cayuga Lake. It will also help fund herbicide treatments.

“Even as summer winds down, the threat of invasive species still looms large. That is why I am glad the EPA is stepping in right on time to help Cayuga Lake, and the surrounding communities, address this Hydrilla infestation. This federal investment will cover the cost to apply targeted herbicide treatments, helping Cayuga Lake become, and remain, Hydrilla-free and begin efforts to address Starry Stonewort, another aquatic invasive threat,” Schumer said in a statement. “Cayuga County, Seneca County, Tompkins County, and the Finger Lakes region generates millions of dollars in economic activity, in large part due to the tourists, boaters, fisherman, farms, businesses, and residents here because of Cayuga Lake. A single aquatic plant could put all of that at risk, which is I am relieved that the federal government heeded my repeated calls to address and remediate Hydrilla in Cayuga Lake. Now the residents and scientists can roll up their sleeves and get to work eradicating this aquatic plant that could destroy the Finger Lakes region’s job-creating and economic potential.”

Related: Hydrilla in Cayuga Lake? Everything you need to know about the invasive aquatic plant

The invasive species Hydrilla was initially found in the southern area of Cayuga Lake in 2011. Local groups have been working to eradicate the invasive aquatic plant, but more was found near Aurora last fall.

The award is going to the Great Lakes Institute at Hobart and Williams Smith College. Nearly $600,000 of the award will help the Finger Lakes Institute control a more recently discovered Hydrilla infestation across a 30-acrea area of Cayuga Lake. The EPA is also awarding the institute $299,474 to address starry stonewort, another invasive algae-like plant that grows quickly and forms mats, which inhibits boating and swimming and destroys native fish habitats.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.