Tryon looking into solutions for Lake Lanier weeds

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, June 29, 2017

Parrot feather weeds located on the shore of Lake Lanier by the Boy Scout Camp. (Photo by Claire Sachse)

LAKE LANIER – After hearing from a Lake Lanier resident who said he came close to drowning by getting stuck in the silt on the bottom of the lake, Tryon Town Manager Zach Ollis said the town is looking into what can be done about the current weed issue.


The discussion got heated between the resident and commissioners, with one commissioner saying the town should charge rent for every dock on the lake in order to pay for maintenance costs.

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Tryon Town Council met June 20 and during citizen comments, heard from lake resident John Ervin. Ervin said residents have been asked to clear the parrot feather weeds around docks so he jumped into the water and landed in three feet of silt.


“I got sucked down,” Ervin said. “It scared me to death. I don’t scare too easily but that was scary. The silt is very thick at the old Boy Scout Camp.”


Ervin said luckily his boat motor was near and he was able to pull himself up.


He said he wasn’t there to yell at anybody but just wanted to know where the town was going, if anywhere, with the parrot feather weed and silt issues.


On the current weed infestation at the lake, particularly heavy in the old Boy Scout Camp area, Ervin said he thinks the town could put a million carp in the lake and it wouldn’t help. Ervin said he loves living on the lake, but he doesn’t want his property value to go down. He added that it is “a mosquito pit” in front of his house.


Ollis said he spoke with someone with the Lake Lanier Civic Association and has secured another meeting with a company with experience with parrot feather to see what they suggest to get rid of the weed. Ollis also said he’s having the town water department look into parrot feather and get quotes on placing carp in the lake, based on the three or four times the town has paid for the carp. Ollis said he will bring the information to the town board of commissioners to see what they want to do.


Ervin asked if the quotes include the silt. He said that this is Tryon’s drinking water and it’s affected the quality and the smell is “awful.“


Commissioner Bill Ingham said he used to work at the water plant and it’s not the silt that’s the problem after the Fourth of July weekend.


Ollis said he will look into the silt, but can’t promise the town can do much.


“You said the silt wasn’t a problem for you,” Ervin told Ingham, “but I about drowned in it, so I take it very seriously.”


Ingham said he understands that, but it’s not a problem as far as drinking water.


Commissioner Bill Crowell said the homeowner’s association needs to spend energy growing because the town receives no revenue to speak of from the lake.


Ervin said, “We pay for our water.”


“You get water from us,” Crowell said.


Ervin said he also pays taxes every time he and his family go out in Tryon.


“We don’t go out to Landrum, we don’t go out to Greenville, we go to Tryon,” Ervin said.


Ingham said Ervin needed to understand the town’s position and that he wasn’t trying to be “ugly” with them.


“We don’t get tax money from people that live on the lake,” Ingham said. “So all these people that live in the town, shouldn’t be expected to go fix the lake, because we don’t get to use it.”


Ervin responded, “It’s your lake. It’s your water. Do you not have to take responsibility and maintain like everything else, preventative maintenance?”


Ervin asked what has to happen before something gets done. “Somebody has to drown?”


Crowell answered, “no,” and said the lake needs a good, strong homeowners’ association to raise thousands and thousands of dollars to maintain the lake.


“To maintain your lake bed,” Ervin said.


Crowell said, “No, we just want the water.”


Crowell said the lake was given to the town “very mysteriously” and was actually stuck on the town’s back.


“We have water off the mountain,” Crowell said.


Ervin said he had the declaration the town signed in 1982. He read from the declaration, which says, “to protect the lake quality to ensure the health, safety and well-being and aesthetic enjoyment for its users.”


Ervin told council members they need to read the declaration.


“Then we need to start charging rent for every dock that’s on that lake to produce the hundreds of thousands of dollars that you want us to spend,” Crowell said.


Ollis offered to give Ervin his card for Ervin to meet with him. Ollis said the town is already working on the carp and will look at the silt. He sent the deed that Ervin referenced to town attorney William Morgan. Ollis said Morgan is new and needs to be brought up to speed but once he is, they will come back with a plan that needs to be implemented.


“Thank you,” Ervin said. “That’s all I ask.”


The lake has been overrun this year with two types of weeds, the main one being parrot feather.


The Bulletin conducted a poll on its website last week asking, “should the Town of Tryon be responsible for eliminating the weeds in Lake Lanier?” The results of the poll included 60 people answering “no,” 55 people answering “yes” and 17 unsure/undecided.