The diving team for the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office scoured the bottom of Gem Lake this past week, looking for the invasive weed that has been causing problems for local irrigators. Flowering rush (Butomus ambellatus), the source of the problem, is a perennial aquatic invasive species that flourishes both as an emersed (shoreline) and submersed plant. Similar in appearance to many plants native to North America, flowering rush can be difficult to accurately identify.
Aided by workers from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, Idaho Falls Power and employees of the Bonneville and Bannock county weed departments, the divers searched within 12 feet of the known infested banks, removing stands of the invasive and placing them in onion sacks.
The infestation has spread into canals serving the Snake River Irrigation Co. and Woodville Canal Co., an infestation that worries both companies. "I can see within a year or two it's going to really plug our canal system off and we're not going to be able to get water to the ends of the canal," said Deverle Wattenbarger, president of Woodville Canal Company.