A partnership of county, state, and federal agencies, as well as allied boating and water resource protection interests, to improve control of invasive aquatic plants in the Delta has led to $1 million in new funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Areawide Pest Management Program, county and state officials announced this week.
San Joaquin County Supervisor Kathy Miller and State Senator Cathleen Galgiani jointly announced the new funding for improved coordination of control of invasive aquatic plants and mosquitos in the southern Delta in San Joaquin County. Some of the funds will be used to improve control in the western Delta in Contra Costa County, announced County Supervisor Mary Piepho. The new funding will also allow expansion of successful techniques to the entire Delta.
“Water hyacinth has plagued the Delta by clogging waterways, destroying ecosystems, and disrupting business and recreational activities. This additional USDA funding is a welcome relief that will continue to support the vital partnerships formed by the Areawide Pest Management Program. With the additional $4 million that I secured in March for the Division of Boating and Waterways to control water hyacinth, we hope to be on our way to finding a sustainable solution to control invasive weeds in the Delta,” said Senator Galgiani.
This inter-agency partnership for improved control is targeting floating water hyacinth and submerged egeria or Brazilian waterweed, as well as the shoreline giant grass known as arundo. All three plants are non-native and invasive and produce flowers, but typically spread via buds and fragments borne by Delta currents. They can grow throughout most of the year in the Delta. In the summer and fall of 2014, the Stockton Deepwater Ship Channel, Port of Stockton, private marinas and public boat ramps, and the state and federal water pumping stations around Tracy were plagued with dense mats of water hyacinth that made navigation dangerous or impossible, restricting commercial shipping and trapping recreational boats in their slips. Water hyacinth and egeria also reduced water flow to the South Delta pumping facilities, requiring removal of tens of thousands of tons of plants over the fall and winter with conveyer belts, backhoes and huge dump trucks. Dense aquatic weeds caused similar problems in Discovery Bay and elsewhere in Contra Costa County. The mats of aquatic weeds made control of mosquitos by the San Joaquin and Contra Costa County Mosquito Vector Control Districts more difficult. Mosquito outbreaks led to detections of West Nile virus in mosquitos and birds in both counties in 2014.