'Underwater lawn mower' could clear weeds near boat launches - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

'Underwater lawn mower' could clear weeds near boat launches

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – A local outdoorsman thinks he may have answer to an underwater problem that has been plaguing area boaters.

Tuesday, Paul Nichols demonstrated his version of an underwater lawn mower for local area fishermen who have been working with TVA on the aquatic weed control project this summer around Chester Frost Park boat ramp.

Nichols modified the grass cutter to mount on the front of his boat. The device is designed to control the aquatic vegetation around docks without having to use herbicides in the water system.

"It's basically going to be a lawn mowing service for the lake," Nichols says. "I'm going to offer the service next year. I'm going to come out and keep the aquatic weeds away from docks."

Nichols calls it a more environmentally friendly alternative to the chemical sprays some landowners are using on the weeds.

"It's going to make the landowners happy to live around the lake, the fishermen as well because there's going to be no chemicals."

According to the University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, the weed, known as hydrilla, is a non-native plant that can grow up to 25 feet long. The plant was introduced to the United States in the 1950 as an aquarium plant.

The weeds create dense underwater mats that can wrap around boat propellers, clog drainage systems, slow water flow and change the chemistry and oxygen levels in the water.

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