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State, volunteers battle invasive plants in waterways

Volunteer Carlos Oliveira of Saugus pulls invasive water chestnut from the waters of the Mystic River in Medford.
Volunteer Carlos Oliveira of Saugus pulls invasive water chestnut from the waters of the Mystic River in Medford.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

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You can rip them out, poison them, vacuum them up, or smother them with sheets of plastic, but your chances of eradicating the exotic plants that are invading the region’s ponds and lakes are slim.

“Once they are in your lake, you are very unlikely to get rid of them,” said Anne Carroll, director of the Office of Water Resources in the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. “You just have to deal with them — like mowing your lawn.”

Winter Pond in Winchester is battling milfoil, and the Martins Pond in North Reading is fighting fanwort. Water chestnuts are clogging the Mystic River in Medford and Somerville.

“These invasives [weeds] are called invasives for a reason,” said Flannery, who runs the department’s Weed Watchers program.

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