International Life

Water Hyacinth, an aquatic nuisance


By Rositta Liosi – EMTV Online

A Water Hyacinth is a floating plant that has thick glossy round leaves, inflated leaf stems and lavender flowers. They look quiet exquisite atop water however these aquatic plants can be somewhat of a nuisance.

The ecological problems caused by water hyacinth includes the degradation of the water quality by blocking photosynthesis, a natural process that produces oxygen needed by fish and other underwater plants. This subsequently reduces biological diversity and alters the native plant and animal communities by pushing away and crushing them.

It is imperative that this plant is managed because once mats of water hyacinth are formed it takes over water ways, limits the use of these water ways and essentially makes it difficult for boaters and swimmers.

In November last year, the water weed trapped boaters and businesses in a sea of green in Stockton, California. Carolyn Keeslar, an office administrator, in Stockton told local news broadcaster, FOX40, “When we didn’t have the hyacinth problem, we would have a lot of boat traffic and people would spend the night and come out and party and have a good time.”

Water hyacinth cannot survive in severely colder climates, thus its growth is encouraged in the tropics and subtropics. Its leaves regrow after moderate freezes and once it’starts growing populations of Water Hyacinth can double in as little as six days.

The cost involved in the management of water hyacinth is so high for both the economy and ecology. However, it is necessary to provide management solutions as, economically sustainable controls provide long-term solutions to aid infestation.

In a bid to control the overpopulation of Water Hyacinth in Brazil this year a potential bio-agent was introduced and released. The Brazilian water hyacinth weevil (Neochetina bruchii), was introduced as an eco-friendly and cost-effective means to rid the South American country of heavy infestations of the aquatic plant.







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