Urgency Added To Effort To Keep Water Flea Out Of Champlain

08/02/12 12:04PM By John Dillon

The discovery of the invasive spin water flea in Lake George has given new urgency to efforts to block its spread to Lake Champlain.

Scientists say that if the water flea reaches the big lake it could have a major impact on the ecosystem by eating plankton that fish rely on for food.

The water flea is a half-inch long, shrimp-like creature with a barbed tail. In lakes that are already infested, the water flea fouls fishing lines by clumping together in bristly globs.

The water flea is also in the Champlain Canal and is believed headed to Lake Champlain. Vermont Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz says Governor Peter Shumlin is putting pressure on New York State to stop the spread of the creature.

"And I know that the governor is calling Governor Cuomo to ask that he work with us to find a way that we can manage the canal so we can stop that threat," Markowitz said.

Earlier this week, Senator Patrick Leahy called on New York to close the canal. But the state's Canal Authority says it can't halt boat movement on the waterway.

Markowitz says there are ways to take boats out of the water and transfer them from lock to lock without halting marine traffic.

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