New Funding will Aid in Enhanced Coordination among State and Local Partners along with USDA to Eradicate the Menacing Plants with more Effective Methods of Control
(Stockton, CA) San Joaquin and Contra Costa County leaders today applauded $1 million in new funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture‐Agricultural Research Service (USDA‐ARS), Area-wide Pest Management Program to help in the ongoing battle to control the invasion of aquatic plants in the Delta.
“We wish to thank the USDA, and also acknowledge the important role of our local legislators and congressional delegation, along with other State, federal, county and community partners to secure these much needed federal funds to control these aquatic weeds that have severely impacted our local economy and all those who do business in the Delta Region,” said Supervisor Kathy Miller. “These invasive plants have sucked the oxygen out of our Delta’s waterways, prevented ships from reaching the Port of Stockton and deterred visitors from reaching marina businesses due to clogged waterways.”
“The funding received could not have come at a better time due to the ongoing drought and unseasonably warm temperatures. The funds will be invested in improved coordination so these weeds and the mosquitos that nest and breed in them could be eradicated once and for all,” said Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho. “This is the result of parallel efforts by local, state and congressional leaders to fight the scourge of water hyacinth with tools that are equal to the scale of the infestation,”
Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman said. “This infusion, and the operation it funds, in combination with the additional $4 million in ongoing state funds secured by Delta representatives in the State Legislature, is a significant augmentation of the arsenal we have to deploy against water hyacinth.”
“This federal funding represents a direct investment in the health of the Delta as an economic driver in the region, and our ability to eradicate dangerous and invasive plants from its ecosystem. It will provide critical new tools to better manage the growth of these aquatic weeds that can obstruct waterways and stifle the ability to provide water for urban and agricultural uses. I am thankful to the USDA and all of our partners who came together to address the threat that these invasive species can have on the Delta economy, environment, and agriculture,” said Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA‐9).
“Invasive species is a chronic problem in California which impacts hundreds of species. Eradicating water hyacinth is critical for healthier waterways, a better boating experience, expanding commerce at our ports and operating California’s water systems,” said Congressman Jeff Denham (CA‐10).
“These federal funds will enable communities in the Delta to make use of new techniques that have proven to be far more effective in controlling the weeds than prior eradication methods that were ineffective and expensive,” stated U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, Co‐Chair of the Invasive Species Caucus. “We all know invasive species pose a costly challenge to infrastructure, agriculture and the environment. These are preventing ships from reaching port, discouraging visitors and hurting business. By making use of new and better eradication techniques, we can get our delta waterways back to the healthy state on which so many jobs and businesses depend.”
“This team effort jointly spearheaded by stakeholders in San Joaquin County, Contra Costa Counties, and the federal government will help address the invasive aquatic weeds that pose an environmental risk to our communities, which depend on the Delta to provide valuable water resources to the area,” said Congressman DeSaulnier (CA‐11).
“We’ve all seen how the drought has made the problem of invasive species worse in the Sacramento‐San Joaquin Delta. Water hyacinth, Brazilian waterweed and emergent giant reed present massive threats to agriculture, navigation and the environment. As a member of the House Invasive Species Caucus, I am proud that we have worked together at the local, state and federal level to prevent further harm to our health and to the local economy,” noted Congressman John Garamendi.
The 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 mosquitoes 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.
The USDA‐ARS Delta Areawide project, which first received funding in June 2014, is designed to develop and implement principles of IPM, to increase the efficiency and success of control of water hyacinth and other invasive aquatic plants, and to improve coordination among agencies responsible for their management in the Delta. Some of the funds will also be used to improve control in the western Delta in Contra Costa County. Key participants include the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Unit in Albany and Davis, which is leading the project and conducting research to improve weed control efficiency.
The NASA‐Ames Research Center in Mountain View is using satellites, areal images and visual models based on water nutrients and flow to pinpoint and predict where water hyacinth and other aquatic plants are growing and moving. This critical information is being used by California State Parks, Division of Boating and Waterways to prioritize the worst invasive populations of water hyacinth for treatment with herbicides and mechanical removal under its state‐funded programs.
The San Joaquin and Contra Costa County Mosquito Vector Control Districts are receiving funding to augment their efforts to control mosquitos near aquatic plant‐invaded waterways. Several departments at UC‐Davis are also involved, providing new knowledge of weed and mosquito biology and an economic model to track project success. New partners this year include the California Department of Food and Agriculture‐Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services, and the Sacramento‐San Joaquin Delta Conservancy. The ultimate goal of the Delta area-wide project is to reduce or eliminate the economic and environmental damage caused by large populations of water hyacinth and other invasive aquatic plants, thereby improving protection of water resources and Delta habitats.