Aquatic Weed Control Program


The purpose of the Aquatic Weed Control Program is to provide units of local government and citizens of North Carolina with resources that will promote the prevention and management of noxious aquatic weed infestations. The philosophy is that by offering assistance and developing partnerships aquatic weeds will be more efficiently managed across the state. 

The two primary objectives are:

  1. Respond to localized infestations to mitigate the long-term economic and environmental impacts that noxious aquatic weeds impose.
  2. Reduce the frequency of aquatic weed introductions through education and public awareness. 

The philosophy of the Program applies to aquatic weed infestations of all sizes. Large-scale projects can be complex and challenging. They may span jurisdiction lines and require the development of partnerships.  Aquatic weed control projects may involve Federal, State and local governments as well as non-government organizations and private landowners.  The Program often serves as a major contributor of funding and provides leadership on large-scale projects. Benefits are realized by offering assistance for small-scale projects as well. Allowing aquatic weeds to persist and spread throughout our waterways only exacerbates the problem. 

The NC Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan provides a detailed explanation of why aquatic weeds are problematic, pathways of introduction and associated laws.

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This program is well equipped and able to provide management and eradication operations, infestation surveys, and site assessments. Staff are available to provide recommendations and offer a free consultation.

For Public Lands this program can provide:

  • Financial Assistance
  • Technical Assistance
  • Operational Support
  • Aquatic Plant Identification
  • Treatment Recommendations

Financial assistance and operational support are in the form of cost-share arrangements and are available to Counties, Municipalities, Soil & Water Districts, Drainage Districts, Public Utilities, and other government agencies.  

How to Apply for Financial Assistance:

  • A telephone call, letter or email may serve as the initial communication.  Be prepared to describe the problem in detail.

  • Program staff will need to conduct a site visit in most circumstances.

  • Submit a grant application.  Download application form.

  • Applications must be received no later than October 15.

  • Applications will be considered for inclusion in the work-plan for the following year.

For Private Lands this program can provide:

  • Technical Assistance
  • Aquatic Plant Identification
  • Recommend Treatments

Private landowners can also contact their county offices of the Agricultural Extension Service for further assistance.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has designated specific plants as "Noxious Aquatic Weeds".  The list was populated by first adopting all the plants that are Federally listed noxious aquatic weeds and then built on that by including other exotic plants that express invasive behavior in North Carolina. 

Not all of the plants on the list occur in North Carolina.  We have included a column on the right side of the list to notate this. 

Noxious Aquatic Weeds recognized by NC DEQ

Common Name  Scientific Name  Found in NC
African Elodea Lagarosiphon spp.  
Alligatorweed Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Griseb Yes
Anchored Waterhycinth Eichhornia azurea (Sw.) Kunth  
Arrowhead Sagittaria sagittifolia L.  
Arrowleaved Monochoria Monochoria hastata (L.) Solms  
Branched Burreed Sparganium ereturm L.  
Brazillian Elodea Egeria densa Planch Yes
Brittleleaf Naiad Najas minor All. Yes
Crab's Claw, Water Solider Stratiotes aloides L.  
Creeping Water Primrose Ludwigia hexapetala (Hooker & Arnott) Zardi. Yes
Eurasian Watermilfoil Myriophyllum spicatum L. Yes
Giant Salvinia  Salvinia Molesta Mitch Yes
Salvinia Salvinia spp. (All except S. rotundifolia)  
Hydrilla Hydrilla verticillata (L.f.) Royle Yes
Indian Hygrophila Hygrophila polysperma (roxb.) T. Anderson  
Limnophila Limnophilia sessiliflora (Vahl) Blume  
Melalucea Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) Blake  
Monochoria Monochoria vaginalis (Burm. F.) Kunth  
Parrotfeather Myriophyllum aquaticum (Vell.) Verdc. Yes 
Phragmites Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. Ex. Steud Yes
Pinnate Mosquitofern Azolla pinnata R. Brown  
Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria L.  Yes
Swamp Morning Glory Ipomoea aquatica Forsk.  
Swamp Stonecrop Crassula helmsii (Kirk)  
Water Chestnut Trapa spp. (All species)  
Water Hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms Yes
Water Lettuce  Pistia stratiotes L. Yes

All noxious aquatic weeds recognized by NC DEQ

Problems Associated with Aquatic Weeds

  • Divert water flows causing erosion and flooding.
  • Impede recreational activities like swimming, fishing, boating, and water sports.
  • Displace native vegetation which can alter community structure and degrade ecological functions.
  • Form dense growths that become navigation hazards.
  • Clog water intake systems of industries, municipalities and irrigators.
  • Create/expand breeding habitat for mosquitoes and other pests.

Aquatic weeds become more difficult and expensive to control if ignored -- rapid response to developing infestations can reduce the damage caused by noxious weeds and the cost of controlling them.

For more details read Economic & Environmental Impacts of NC Aquatic Weed Infestations

Methods Used to Control Aquatic Weeds

  • Physical:  Water level manipulation, deepening near-shore areas, use of dyes or bottom covers.
  • Mechanical:  Removal of weeds with hand tools or mechanical equipment.
  • Biological:  Use of herbivorous fish or insects and diseases that attack specific weeds.
  • Chemical:  Use of herbicides approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for aquatic use.

For more information visit Biology and Control of Aquatic Plants A Best Management Practices Handbook

For more information about how to Stop Aquatic Hitchhikes, read our Brochure 

Ongoing Major Aquatic Weed Management Projects 

Work Plans 

If you would like more information about our other projects visit: Aquatic Weed Projects

If you need help with controlling or managing aquatic plants, please contact:

Rob Emens

Andrew Gay

Aquatic Weed Program Manager

(919) 707-9012


Aquatic Weed Specialist

(919) 707-9020