Water Weeds are killing our river

Our local newspaper, the Daily Dispatch, run this article this morning.

Deadly weeds choke Nahoon river – A noxious water weed is once again choking the life out of the Nahoon River, which is home to myriad species including bass, geese, fish eagles and otters. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), one of the world’s worst aquatic weeds, first threatened the river’s ecosystem last year. Now the out-of-control alien plant has blanketed large stretches of the river, with the worst outbreak occurring near the causeway that links Dorchester Heights to the Stutterheim road.

Residents living along the river bank have now questioned the municipality’s efforts in keeping one of East London’s most popular rivers unpolluted. Joan Hempel, whose farm borders the river, said: “I am dismayed at the state of the Nahoon River. The rapid growth and spread of the hyacinth has already affected the wildlife. “It seems the entire ecosystem is being choked and destroyed by this alien invader plant.” Hempel has sent numerous reports to the Department of Water Affairs hoping to pressure government to act.

“To date no one has responded or reacted to my report. I was hoping to alert them to the alarming spread of the plant. Andrew Lucas, Department of Water Affairs provincial director of water regulation and use, said clearing invasive alien plants was the responsibility of land owners. Lucas said if the land belonged to the municipality, it was the responsibility of the Working For Water team. “I have not investigated the areas myself but the influx usually stems from residents,” he said.

Lucas said residents used the weed, which has a beautiful purple flower, to decorate their ponds and water features. “When it starts to overgrow they dump it in the river.” According to Lucas this reinfects the river system and the problem starts all over again. The water hyacinth has caused a decline in fish populations in Africa. – Taken from Dispatch.co.za  15/02/2011

Ok, so if Water Affairs doesn’t want to help the river then what?  A classic case of passing the buck, our politicians are very good at doing that.  Pity they are not as good at anything else.

I found this info on Wikipedia…

When not controlled, water hyacinth will cover lakes and ponds entirely; this dramatically impacts water flow, blocks sunlight from reaching native aquatic plants, and starves the water of oxygen, often killing fish (or turtles). The plants also create a prime habitat for mosquitos, the classic vectors of disease, and a species of snail known to host a parasitic flatworm which causes schistosomiasis (snail fever).

Solution – I will definitely be sending our political parties a strong email.  What nonsense is this passing the buck, if it isn’t your mandate then help us to get the right people in to fix the problem.  Be part of the solution, Don’t add to it – silly man.

Wikipedia’s article has some interesting results at the end…

Industrial utilization

Since the plant has abundant nitrogen content, it can be used a substrate for biogas production and the sludge obtained from the biogas. However, due to easy accumulation of toxins, the plant is prone to get contaminated when used as feed.

Exogenous

The plant is extremely tolerant of, and has a high capacity for, the uptake of heavy metals, including Cd, Cr, Co, Ni, Pb and Hg, which could make it suitable for the biocleaning of industrial wastewater [7], [8], [9], [10]. In addition to heavy metals, Eichhornia crassipes can also remove other toxins, such as cyanide, which is environmentally beneficial in areas that have endured gold mining operations [11].

Water hyacinth is also observed to enhance nitrification in waste water treatment cells of living technology. Their root zones are superb micro-sites for bacterial communities.[12]

Food for thought – this weed is not all bad, it’s just not any good in our Nahoon river.  An import bit of information, that I will include in my emails.

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Stephen Klaber said,

    Thanks for an insightful article. This weed and others are destroying rivers and lakes worldwide. They are the real driving force in climate degradation: they suppress “lake effect” rains and the replenishment of ground water. They are all biomass, waiting to be biofuel. This is the biofuel feedstock that improves your water footprint, rather than degrades it.

    • 2

      Hayleigh said,

      Hi Stephen

      Thanks for your comment, I find it fascinating that one small plant can destroy a river at such great speed and almost without us noticing it.

      I didn’t think to research its uses regarding biofuel. I will have to look into that and post what I find. If you have any future info, please share.

      Happy recycling
      Hayleigh


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