Opinions differ on effect salvinia has on property values at reservoir

By NIKKI ROWELL,

Giant Salvinia has had a ripple effect on the Barnett Reservoir since it was discovered in Pelahatchie Bay last year.

Efforts to eradicate the invasive plant, which would take over the lake completely if left untreated, are necessary. However, as a result, there have been unavoidable financial effects on the real estate market and local businesses.

Dr. Patrick Weldon, like many other waterfront property owners in Pelahatchie Bay, saw the effect on real estate due to Giant Salvinia when the water level was lowered.

Weldon had just put his waterfront property in Fox Bay on the market.

“We just happened to put our house for sale at the same time that the water level was being lowered,” Weldon said, “which put my boat slip in about one foot of water.”

Potential buyers would show up to check out the home and property and leave after seeing the boat slip.

“They saw a house not on a lake, but on the mud,” he said. “We had this nice deck and boat slip with mud on it. It slowed down selling the house by six months.”

“We had a lot of people, especially from out of town who were looking for a house on the water, who saw the lack of water and dry boat slip and said, ‘No thanks,” Weldon said.

Real estate agent Stephanie Remore said that response has been common for out-of-town buyers looking for waterfront property at the reservoir.

“The biggest concern that I run into is from people who come in from out of state or out of town that don’t understand or aren’t familiar with how it works,” Remore said of lowering the lake levels. “Sometimes they don’t understand how it works with lowering the reservoir, and they have concerns about the impact long-term.”

“People worry about buying waterfront and not being able to use it,” she added.

As of November 15, Remore said there were 15 waterfront properties for sale in the Pelahatchie Bay area. There have been 45 waterfront properties sold in the area over the past year.

Remore has sold properties in Pelahatchie Bay over the years and has three active listings currently. She said it is common to see fewer properties on the market during the winter.“I have sold many in the past and have worked at various times with sellers there,” Remore said. “There has definitely been some hesitation in proceeding with purchases and not being able to use their watercrafts.”

“Some people are deciding to look at other areas and other lakes,” Remore said.

The minimum waterfront property values in Pelahatchie Bay is $225,000, and the maximum is $1.25 million.

Real estate agent Teresa Renkenberger said she has not seen a direct impact on the value of properties in Pelahatchie Bay at this point.

“I haven’t seen it make a change in the market. It may make a change eventually,” Renkenberger said.

In addition to the effects of the lower lake level, property owners have been impacted by the closing off of Pelahatchie Bay from the rest of the lake, with barriers in place under the bridge on the Causeway.

“While banning boat traffic under the bridge on the Causeway puts a burden on our Bay residents, other boaters and businesses, what transpired this week is exactly why it remained closed and will remain closed indefinitely,” Barnett Reservoir General Manager John Sigman said in a statement last month. “The booms will remain in place at the bridge. We simply cannot allow this plant to get to the main lake and beyond.”

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