Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tons of Invasive Plant Removed from Stockton Channel

Roughly 187 tons of an invasive species of plant called the water hyacinth has been removed from the Port of Stockton’s deep water channel since early November in hopes of clearing the channel for better navigation by oceangoing vessels.

Water hyacinth plants have tremendous growth and reproductive rates; a single plant can produce as many as 5,000 seeds. The plant, which grows from March to December, can double in size roughly every 10 days during warm weather months.

In 2012, Stockton struggled significantly with the plant’s growth to the point that ships wouldn’t navigate the deep-water channel after dark because the fields of plants were so thick that they resembled land and caused confusion.

Spraying of the plants began early this year, but the results failed to halt the problem, so the port eventually set aside $25,000 to hire Aquatic Harvesting, which is based in the Northern California city of Hayward, to harvest the plants.

Under the process, Aquatic Harvesting uses harvesting machines to pull the plants out of the water and onto boats, where they’re then brought to land, placed in containers and taken to a port-based waste management company called Recology, which then dries the plants and grinds them up.