By Corey Poole
The Saint Claire Lake Homeowners Association is fighting an ongoing battle against a weed called Chara invading their 7 acre pond.
Chara is an algae that grows in dense mats that cover the surface of shallow waters, creating an uninhabitable environment for other plants and fish species.
Not a native plant to the area, Association President Alvin Shields suspects seeds were carried to their lake by migrating birds.
With options like a drawdown out of their budget range, the Association called in the Pond Doctor from Port Barre. David Bertrand uses an amphibious mechanical weed harvester that is one of 12 such machines in the U.S. He ordered it from Sweden and said that Europe is very proactive about maintaining its drainage with the use of these machines. He has a 40-foot machine for larger bodies of water and is expecting a delivery of a second smaller machine in a month.
He uses the machines to clean out lakes, canals and golf courses. “There’s a lot of opportunities for me to provide homeowners with some relief,” he said. “Homeowners need all three tactics to maintain their bodies of water: chemical, mechanical and biological.”
Shields said the mechanical tactic is the first thing to do. Next, he will spray an algaecide and re-dye the lake to reflect the sunlight from its depths where the algae grows during the winter. The pond will also be restocked with grass eating carp, which will help maintain the vegetation.
Shields has consulted with the Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries for the best methods to manage the lake. The LDWF cannot directly assist with lake management because it is privately owned by the Association. There are 10 lots that share the lake, but only seven homes are occupied.
The area was originally a swamp in 1998 and was turned into a lake when the St. Claire Lake Subdivision was developed in 2000.