Santee Cooper will spray herbicides by air over lakes Marion and Moultrie Aug. 5 through Aug. 15 to target invasive plants.

The state-owned utility will conduct helicopter treatments with EPA-approved chemicals, targeting the aquatic plant, crested floating heart, an aggressive grower that's hard to control.

Of the more than 5,200 acres currently infested by the plant, about 2,800 acres in higher traffic areas will be treated. The spraying is meant to improve lake access for residential and commercial properties, improve recreational opportunities and help prevent the plant's spread to other areas within the Santee Cooper Lakes system.

To notify boaters of spray operations, Santee Cooper employees will patrol the spray sites on airboats and post signs at public and commercial boat landings near the targeted locations.

Lake users are asked to avoid the following areas during these operations:

Lake Marion (Calhoun County): Low Falls/Halfway Swamp and Stumphole Swamp.

Lake Marion (Clarendon County): Elliott's Flats/Tree Line, areas adjacent to Santee River discharge to channel marker 158, Cantey Bay and Jack's Creek impoundment.

Lake Marion (Clarendon County): Santee National Wildlife Refuge - Bluff Unit.

Lake Moultrie: areas adjacent to mouth of Diversion Canal, Quattlebaum Cove and Sandy Beach Waterfowl Management Area.

For more information, call the utility's analytical and biological services unit at

843-761-4078.