By Associated Press - Saturday, August 23, 2014

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - An eastern Idaho law enforcement dive team has put its skills to use in helping unclog an irrigation system by pulling underwater weeds.

The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office dive team and Idaho Falls Power Co. on Tuesday pulled invasive weeds in Gem Lake. Officials with Bonneville County Weed Control asked for help pulling the weeds found in the lake that feeds canal water to farmers.

The Post Register reports ( that two boats, each with three divers and an operator, took part.

“I don’t think we’ve ever done this before,” Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Christensen said.

Farmers and the weed board prefer to pull the weeds by hand because using herbicides would kill crops using the canal water. Distributing chemicals into the irrigation system would also require federal, state and local approval.

Divers are removing a non-native plant called flowering rush. The weed was originally brought over to North America to be used as an ornamental plant, but it eventually escaped into Idaho’s ecosystem during the 1976 Teton Dam flood.

“We believe people had it in their yards, and the flood washed it downstream,” Christensen said.

The dive team pulled the weeds from seven different sites. Annual checks will be done to monitor the weed’s regrowth. The total cost of the effort is estimated to be $2,500, which will be paid by the weed taxation revenue.

Idaho Falls Power plant mechanic Tom Halicak said it’s also important to remove the weeds from the water because it can damage power-generation stations such as the one at Gem Lake Dam.

“We want it controlled because we don’t want it to obstruct the intake and we want to protect the wildlife habitat,” he said.


Information from: Post Register,

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