POSTED: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 9:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 9:34pm
LAFAYETTE, LA (NBC33) — For those who make a living off the Atchafalaya Basin or any major body of water in Louisiana, the infestation of water hyacinth and hydrilla has been a major problem for years. These aquatic plants are hard to kill, expensive to maintain, and rapidly growing out of control.
"Basically all these plants have been brought over here because they're selected for their hardiness, their attractiveness, or in some cases their just resilience to dying," says Brac Salyers, Biologist Manager of the Atchafalaya Basin.
Although both plants are very problematic in different ways, water hyacinth is a bigger issue for the Atchafalaya Basin.
"The reason it gets so problematic is that it spreads from its roots, and it'll completely choke a waterway out," says Salyers.
The water hyacinth will choke a waterway out leaving fishermen and crew boats unable to pass. Boats are able to pass through hydrilla if the water is up, but it's problematic for a different reason.
"The problem with hydrilla is that it so easily spreads when a propeller goes through and chops up part of that plant material that's how most hydrilla reproduces," says Salyers.
Not only fishermen and boat crews, but businesses on bodies of water here in south Louisiana are seeing the effects of these infestations.
"It's been a problem because it's enabled us to be able to travel in some of the regular routes that we take with our tours. Also, it's been a problem with just manuevering through the Basin period for everybody," says David Alleman, Owner of McGee's Landing.
The maintenance on these plants is very expensive, and when it comes to the state's budget killing hydrilla and water hyacinth is not high on the list.
"They don't want to fund any spraying at this particular time because thier money short so it's been a problem the last few years no doubt," says Alleman.
Because of money shortage the water hyacinth cannot be sprayed regularly and the lakes cannot be drawn down, causing a complete infestation of both plants. The water hyacinth and hydrilla have been an ongoing problem for McGee's Landing in its business since it opened, but luckily David Alleman might have a solution.
"We have a patent pending on a machine and also products that will be manufactured from the water hyacinth," says Alleman.
The solution is to start harvesting the water hyacinth, which has twenty-one percent of protein in its leaves, and make it into cattle feed. This could save money by eliminating the amount of spraying, and could even end up profiting the state. It could be a possible solution to a lot of problems.