Drought causing vegetation to grow in parts of Colorado River


by ANDREW CHUNG / KVUE News and Photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndrewC_KVUE


Posted on July 29, 2013 at 7:58 AM

BASTROP -- It's a scenic view at the June Hill Pape Riverwalk Trail in Bastrop. Part of that beautiful view includes the Colorado River.  But if you look closer, there's something clogging the vista.

Aquatic vegetation is growing on the river, and it's an eyesore. 

"You can't like, really, get out [into the water] and refresh, because it just gets all over you," said Bayleigh Walker, who visits the area about once a month.

In some parts of the river, it's like a green mat growing on the surface. 

"Everybody on the river is feeling the pain of this drought," said Mark Rose, general manager of Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. 

That drought, he says, is actually helping this vegetation grow. 

"With no inflows into the river, and lots of nutrients, you get this. And it's a combination of algae, it's a combination of weeds, and in portions of the river - the river is impassable," he explained.

Nearly two weeks ago, the rains helped clear it out, but it didn't last.  As soon as the rain stopped - the weeds came back.

At the Lower Colorado River Authority’s headquarters in Austin, Bryan Cook, a water quality supervisor, showed a sample of what's clogging the river: duckweed. 

"This is what folks see quite often when they're on the river because it's the most visible on the surface," he said.

But that's not stopping Walker and her friend, Abby Goertz, from enjoying the Colorado River. 

"You can't just not come to this beautiful park just because of the algae," said Goertz.

Cook says there's a way to fix this. 

"The solution to this situation is going to be a large enough flood to dislodge it and scour the river downstream."

And that means hoping for more rain.