Water weed control on schedule
by San Joaquin News Service
Jan 30, 2013 | 1901 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State and federal officials are trying to get a jump-start this year on an annual herbicide spraying program to combat an invasive plant that has clogged Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta waterways and harbors, including at least one just outside Tracy.

Kim Turner, assistant field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said there should be no “hang ups” getting the permits needed to spray for water hyacinth this year.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state Department of Boating and Waterways did not apply for a new permit to spray herbicide against the water hyacinth in time for a June start, Turner said.

Additional review was also needed, she said, because the status of the threatened Delta smelt had worsened.

By the time spraying began in September, the floating plant with large, shiny leaves and purple flowers had exploded in the summer heat.

When left unchecked, the floating water hyacinth forms a solid carpet across and underneath the water surface, clogging propellers, rudders and water intakes.

Rivers End & Marina Storage at the mouth of Old River northwest of Tracy was shut down for several months this year because of the invasive plant.

Marina owner Bill Pease said in December that he had to close in October, which he estimated cost him as much as $50,000.

“Now we are seeing the repercussion — multiple marinas are going out of business,” Pease told the Tracy Press.

Water hyacinth was brought to North America from the Amazon as an ornamental plant and eventually reached the Delta.

Government agencies and the boating industry have been battling it ever since, mainly with herbicides. The spraying is mainly paid for by taxes and boater fees

• The San Joaquin News Service is a news sharing arrangement with the Lodi News Sentinel.

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