Thursday, April 25, 2024

Central Coast battles South American river weed

Central Coast Council is working with the NSW Government to remove Salvinia weed from Wyong River.

Salvinia is a free-floating weed that thrives in warmer weather forming dense mats of vegetation on water surfaces. The declared plant was identified earlier this month on Wyong River Weir area near Wyong Milk Factory.

To manage the weed, booms were installed on the river surface in four locations along the river last week, Council said in a statement. The booms aim to contain the Salvinia in designated locations during the removal process.

Manual removal of the weed started yesterday west of the Alison Road bridge, following the arrival of aquatic machinery required for the work. It is estimated to take four to six weeks to clear the weed from the area.

Council Director for Water and Sewer, Jamie Loader said Council is working with Crown Lands in the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) in supporting the removal of the weed on Wyong River to ensure protection of the Coast’s biodiversity and water quality.

“The bed of Wyong River is owned by Crown Lands. The river is one of our community’s valuable water resources and a sensitive aquatic ecosystem. Council intermittently harvests water from the river through to Mardi Water Treatment Plant where it is treated and made safe for our community to drink,” said Mr Loader.

“We would like to see the Wyong River protected and conserved, free from Salvinia and other forbidden plants. This weed spreads rapidly and action needs to occur quickly. To further mitigate risk, Council is also working with the community to survey private properties near Wyong River Weir where the weed may be present.

“We have increased the frequency of water quality testing and surveillance and continue to monitor the situation to ensure the safety of drinking water supply. There is currently no direct threat to the drinking water supply, and we are currently not pumping water from the Wyong River pump station,” he said.

Council has also liaised with Crown Lands on the issue and says it will provide details of its work program to discuss potential joint funding contributions toward the removal of the weed.

A weed-eating weevil will be introduced to the area to manage the Salvinia weed levels long-term. Cooler temperatures in upcoming months are also expected to decrease the likelihood of the weed spreading.

“Acting quicky to locate and remove Salvinia from Wyong River area safeguards the water resource for all life forms that live in and use the waterway,” said Council Administrator, Rik Hart

“It supports a resilient and sustainable water future with reliable, quality drinking water for the Central Coast,” he said.

About Salvinia

Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is native to South America however is found across Australia. It is listed as a Weed of National Significance and must not be sold anywhere in NSW.

Salvinia spreads though:

– Attaching to boats, trailers, and vehicles
– Attaching to animals such as water birds, turtles, or cattle.
– Human activities such as keeping it in fishponds or aquariums and inappropriate disposal of the plant.
– Once in a waterway the plants can be spread by water flows especially floods and wind.

What to do if you locate Salvinia

If you have small quantities of Salvinia in your home fish tanks or ponds, place the weed in a bag and dispose of it in your red lid general waste bin. Never dispose of water, plants or animals from home aquariums and ponds within our local waterways.

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