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Press Conference: The Threat of Hydrilla in the Connecticut River

still from a video of a press conference

On August 16th, 2023, a press conference was held by the Connecticut General Assembly at the Chester Boat Basin to update the public about the threat of Hydrilla in Connecticut and the Connecticut River. A full recording is available here.


This press conference was intended to educate the public about testing and remediation of invasive aquatic species in the Connecticut River, focusing on hydrilla (hydrilla verticillata), a highly problematic invasive rapidly spreading throughout the lower River Valley.

Experts addressed how these species cause ecological and economic harm, talked about the different research and removal projects being conducted in the Connecticut River, introduced the newly formed Office of Aquatic Invasive Species, and offered methods of prevention.


To better understand the dynamics of water flow and exchange in the local waterways, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in cooperation with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), will be applying Rhodamine WT (RWT), a red tracer dye to the Chester Boat Basin, along with three other sites. This dye release and study program is preparatory to the eventual release of herbicide treatment for the control of hydrilla at each site.


According to the USACE, RWT dye is a fluorescent, xanthene dye that has been used for water tracing since at least the mid-20th century to quantify time of travel in dynamic (in this case, tidal) waters. This dye has no significant effects on aquatic organisms and has been proven to be safe to use for these studies. There will be impacts on the color of the water at the sites and surrounding areas as the dye is bright red in color, but these are expected to be minimal and short-term as the dye will dilute and dissipate with the flow and tides of the river.


More information about hydrilla management plans are available from Connecticut River Conservancy here, and the U.S. Corps of Engineers, New England here.


Speakers at the press conference:


  • Greg Bugbee, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station/Office of Aquatic Invasive Species

  • Margot Burns, Lower River Council of Governments

  • Senator Richard Blumenthal

  • State Representative Devin Carney

  • Matt Goclowski, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

  • Wendy Flynn, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

  • Bob Petzold, Petzold’s Marine/Chester Boat Basin

  • Captain Mark Yuknat, Connecticut River Expeditions

  • Rhea Drozdenko, Connecticut River Conservancy

  • State Representative Christine Palm

Thank you to all those who attended and are participating in work related to Aquatic Invasive Species, for any questions please feel free to contact Connecticut River Conservancy’s River Steward for Connecticut, Rhea Drozdenko at rdrozdenko@ctriver.org.




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