Island Lake officials hope a specially designed machine will help them reduce the unsightly green plants that have covered the town’s namesake lake the past few summers.
The village board on Thursday agreed to buy a used aquatic weed harvester and a trailer from the McHenry County town of Lakewood.
The goal is to remove duckweed and algae from the lake’s surface.
Also called water lens or bayroot, duckweed floats on or just beneath the surface of still or slow-moving bodies of fresh water. Some experts praise duckweed for its water purification abilities and as a food source for waterfowl, but Island Lake officials want it gone.
“Over the past several years, there has been a noticeable difference in the amount of duckweed,” said Ken Wick, who leads the village’s lake management committee. “Once it is in the lake, it’s extremely difficult to remove.”
The task is challenging because the plants can multiply quickly, Wick said.
Chemical treatments are costly and don’t work well because they need to stay in place for 40 days, Wick said. That kind of stability is impossible here because water flows into Island Lake from Mutton Creek and out of it through a spillway, he said.
And so, village officials are going to try a harvester.
Manufactured by a Florida company called Weedoo Greenboat, the man-driven watercraft is designed to collect unwanted plants or other pollutants from rivers and lakes. The debris is scooped up and collected for disposal or composting.
The harvester and its trailer will cost Island Lake $8,500, far less than the $40,000 estimated price for new equipment, Wick said.
Duckweed typically starts appearing on the lake in May, so public works employees or volunteers could be out on the lake with the Weedoo soon, Wick said.
Wick is pragmatic about the mission.
“I don’t think we will ever get rid of all of it, but the goal is to get it under control and manageable,” he said.