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New proposal to fight giant salvinia offered

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BATON ROUGE, La., (KNOE 8 News) - State Representative Patrick Williams has announced his plan to bring awareness to a growing aquatic weeds problem in Louisiana waters. For the last few years, lakes and waters in the state, along with many other Southern states have been immersed with giant salvinia, a floating plant that can be catastrophic if not maintained.

The salvinia plant/weed, which originated in South America and has spread to the Southern states through the horticultural market, interferes with Louisiana's recreational and commercial industries. The salvinia weed cuts off nutrients and oxygen to freshwater fish and holds the potential to destroy the ecosystem. It also blocks access to water for crops, and wreaks havoc on turbines and other water-stationed dependent mechanical items. The weed can double in area in four to five days and choke off water access to an entire lake.

To date, the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries has tried, and considered, several methods to control the giant salvinia and improve water quality including:

-Consideration of cutting down some of the bald cypresses, the state tree, which some say protect salvinia from cold and herbicide.

-Building of dams, which would allow more water to drain during draw-downs and would allow for the placement a skimming device to catch the plants as they flow through.

-Use of weevils or similar insects to eat the plants.

Most recently, the department has introduced the use of herbicides such as Galleon, which can cost more than $1,800 a gallon, and to which some residents attribute the recent color change of fish in their local waters, to kill the salvinia weed. However, since the chemical must stay on or near the plants for two to three months, Galleon proves to be inefficient.  It dilutes too quickly and in many cases doesn't reach the depth of the new growth of the weed's seeds, below the water's surface.  For that reason alone, the salvinia weed seems to grow at a rate much faster than any herbicide can kill it. Sadly, none of the department's initial control efforts have been successful. Many residents, including local businesses and fishermen, are looking to the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries for results, despite years of work to find a solution.

Rep. Williams points out one method that has not been explored in conquering the growing weed epidemic. Invented by John Bourque, the patented "WaterMower" is said to eradicate salvinia immediately by reducing it to a lifeless-pulp.  This red-white-and-blue painted contraption, sets on a water-float, and includes a conveyor belt that scoops salvinia out of water, pushes it into a blender-like shredder, and then spits the decentagrated material back into the water.

"We must act quickly, and it will take a collective effort, to take control of the giant salvinia.  It is an aggressive invader species, and colonies can cover the surface of the water, blocking sunlight.  This cuts back on photosynthesis and causes oxygen depletion, as well as the death of fish.  The WaterMower proves to be an effective, efficient, and, most importantly, environmentally friendly solution, and I feel it is an option that needs to be explored." said Rep. Patrick Williams.

Rep. Williams has invited Mr. Bourque to the Capitol, to speak to the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at 9:30 AM, in House Committee Room 4.  Rep. Williams has extended an invitation to sportsmen and other water sports enthusiasts, to experience a visual demonstration on the invention and learn the benefits of the WaterMower. 

Rep. Williams expressed his faith in the invention saying, "LSU researchers confirm that the WaterMower will kill and control future growth of the salvinia weed.  This is a chance to restore life to Louisiana lakes and waters. Being that many other methods have failed, I find it fair to give the WaterMower a chance. As the aggressive salvinia weed continues to reproduce rapidly and threaten our aquatic life, Mr. Bourque's invention may be our only "green" solution. This method is about killing the weeds and keeping our waters and people safe. "

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