Good news for Pelahatchie Bay residents on fight against giant salvinia

Giant Salvinia meeting

RANKIN COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - Good news for residents in the Pelahatchie Bay area. Officials say the giant salvinia is 90 percent eradicated, but the work isn’t over.

The invasive plant can create a mat across the surface of the water, and kill off fish and other aquatic species.

General manager, John Sigman and officials with the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District say they want to turn the heat up on the invasive plant plaguing the Pelahatchie Bay.

Officials with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries recently began spraying herbicide on the remaining 10 percent of the giant salvinia.

They’re also burning the invasive weed with fire. But rain and cold temperatures hindered the work.

“I think we’re past the cold weather. So we got to start looking at heavy application of herbicide again. And hopefully we’ll be able to eradicate this thing and move on with the summer of boating and fishing,” said Sigman.

Giant salvinia grows aggressively, doubling its biomass in 36 hours in warm, still waters. Ryan Jones, a biologist with Wildlife and Fisheries says the top layer was treated with herbicide and killed off. But after further inspection officials say they found salvinia deeper in the mud.

“All of the vegetation needs to be burned along this entire shoreline of the range. So that sunlight can penetrate and wind could pull moisture off out of the soil. And dry it out, and then we can also maybe put one final dose of herbicide on there that has a little bit of soil activity,” said Jones.

The evil weed is often spread by boaters. The district says a cleaning station will arrive next week. The district says they’re aiming to be open by April 1st for boaters to use.

“So we have purchased and it’ll be here next week, a cleaning station. Which has vacuums and wash waters, and pumps. And it’s solar powered, it’s self reporting, it’s pretty nice. And we actually got two more coming through a grant from DEQ," said Sigman.

MDWFP says that boaters need to clean, drain and dry their boating equipment after each use to limit the spread of this species.

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