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Lake in North Patchogue drained to eliminate nonnative plants

Canaan Lake in North Patchogue, seen here May

Canaan Lake in North Patchogue, seen here May 9, will undergo draining and filtering to address the overwhelming invasive plant species that have made their home in the lake. Credit: Johnny Milano

Suffolk County has begun draining Canaan Lake in North Patchogue in an effort to rid invasive plant species in the water.

The roughly $2.5 million project started last week, and 2 feet of water has already been drained with 3 more to go, Suffolk County Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) said this week.

The legislator said the county has spent $1 million, including $750,000 for a culvert to help drain the lake of nonnative plant species.

Another $1.5 million will go toward removing and disposing sediment at the bottom of the lake.

County officials said they plan to ask Brookhaven Town to assist with landfill disposal fees.

Brookhaven Town officials on Wednesday said they have yet to receive the request.

The nonnative plants milfoil and cabomba were discovered in the lake, officials said. Both are aquatic plants, but the milfoil can threaten freshwater, according to town officials.

County officials said the draining is the second step in a project to rid the lake of invasive plant species following the installing of the culvert, completed last year.

Officials hope draining the lake will help dry out and kill the plants over the next several months since they aren’t used to being exposed to air.

“Then we’ll scrape the bottom of the lake clean,” Calarco said.

The legislator said he has received inquiries asking why the draining wasn’t done during winter.

He said the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation only permits draining after May 1 in order to protect spawning amphibious species.

Calarco said he’s curious about what might be found at the lake bottom.

“We’ve also heard many, many stories about what is on the bottom of the lake, including “Star Wars” toys, old bicycles, a ring — and even a Volkswagen Beetle,” the legislator said in a Facebook post. “We’ll find out as the water drains over the next several weeks.”

Canaan Lake is in North Patchogue, south of Woodside Avenue and west of North Ocean Avenue.

The 21-acre lake is part of the Patchogue water system.

As it flows downstream, it goes into the Patchogue Lake and later spills over into the Patchogue River.

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