City looks to slow lily pad growth on Quarton Lake

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published July 15, 2013

 Birmingham residents have been complaining about the explosion of lily pads that covers Quarton Lake.

Birmingham residents have been complaining about the explosion of lily pads that covers Quarton Lake.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

BIRMINGHAM — For years, there has been an invasion in Birmingham. They’re taking over, and residents are getting concerned.

Lily pads have commandeered Quarton Lake. 

According to a press release from the Birmingham Department of Public Services earlier this month, several inquiries have been made about the noticeable increase of lily pads, or water lilies, on Quarton Lake, specifically near the fishing pier. The release explains that, while a nuisance for those looking to access the lake, the vegetation is totally natural and even beneficial to the aquatic ecosystem.

Environmental quality analyst Eric Bacon, with the water resources division of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, agreed with the release, saying that while some residents might consider the lilies a nuisance, they’re absolutely essential to a balanced water habitat.

“Because it is a natural component of the lake, (an influx in lilies) couldn’t be harmful. Water lilies are native to the ecosystem. That plant provides a lot of cover for fish, and they provide a breeding ground for many bugs or insects that will grow or live around the water lilies, and that provides a base of food for fish and frogs,” said Bacon.

The city reports that, because of warmer-than-usual weather conditions in the past several years, lily pad growth has been increasing since 2005. The vegetation has grown significantly within the last two years.

Though there’s no risk posed by the growth, residents would like a resolution to what they say is an eyesore. Bacon said that permits need to be obtained in the event that a resident or municipality wants to remove lily pads, either with chemical treatments or by cutting the plants away, also known as harvesting.

“Chemical removal requires a permit because the chemicals are nonnative to water, and such water is regulated by DEQ. Our role is to ensure that water is not degraded or impaired for other use,” he said. “If they’re going to cut the vegetation, the activity of cutting could be disturbing to the sediment of the bottom of the lake.”

After so many inquiries from Birmingham residents, the city’s DPS decided to look into the issue and has consulted with experts to determine how the growth can be mitigated. According to a prepared statement from DPS Director Lauren Wood, once a recommendation is made, the public will be notified of a decided course of action and a potential timeline for treatment.

“It’s important to note that lily pads do not represent harm to the water or environment or to the fish habitat on Quarton Lake,” said Wood in the statement. “The DPS has been and will continue to closely monitor the lake and the lily pads.”

For more information, call the Birmingham Department of Public Services at (248) 530-1700.