Letters to the Editor: Spraying for Weeds, Abandoned Vessels

Letters to the Editor in Sebastian, Florida.
Letters to the Editor in Sebastian, Florida.

Letters to the Editor for June 2, 2020.

Spraying for Weeds

I will need to master my composition to remain concise. This is a very complex ecological issue.

Aquatic vegetation is an essential factor for a healthy aquatic environment. However, shallow waters will become clogged by its unrestricted growth.

There are 3 methods that effectively restrain the overgrowth of aquatic plants: Herbicides / Mechanical Harvest and Removal / Dredging.

Prior to the deployment of “safe” herbicides (1970’s), mechanical harvesting was employed to maintain clear waterways.

Herbicides are much less expensive and very effective. They are widely used in the United States. They are considered to be safe by the Department of Agriculture, when used as directed. Herbicides are not selective, they kill all species of aquatic plants.

There have been scientific research papers studying the negative long term effects on aquatic ecosystems. The chemical decomposition of herbicides have longer lasting and cumulative effects on many aquatic fauna. Primarily interfering with the growth and reproduction of mollusks.

Further, herbicides are applied by contractors. Their contracts do not prescribe or limit the amount of herbicides applied to our waterways.

The dilemma is apparent. More is NOT better.

We all need a rational conservative approach to reduce waterway aquatic congestion. This approach requires oversight and concern for the overall ecosystem that we cherish.

Keep up the good work!

John J Caprice RPH

Spraying for Weeds

Well.. what Councilman Jim Hill predicted has come true. At least at Hardee Park as I witnessed this personally.

I went there this afternoon and it’s alarming how fast the canals are being covered by water hyacinths and giant duckweed. The water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes is a highly problematic invasive species. It multiples very rapidly, cuts off sunlight to the aquatic plants below and produces hypoxic conditions that kill fish.

Same is for the giant duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza).

Annie Talley

Spraying for Weeds

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Your article June 1 concerning the aquatic invasive plants in the canal near Hardee Park leaves much unsaid.

The moratorium on spraying deadly toxic herbicides along the city’s canals and in our ponds and other water bodies does not put a stop to controlling the weeds. The state has approved more than 60 methods to control aquatic weeds. Spraying toxic chemicals is just one of them and is now the method of last resort for human health and ecological health reasons.

The city agreed in January that we should develop integrated pest/plant management (IPM) plans, first for the ballfields, parks and recreation areas and then develop another integrated pest management plan for the canal system. The council and city manager set a deadline for the IPM for the parks — the end of March for a draft — and agreed to start work on the canal IPM when the first task was completed. The emergency declaration in mid March has thrown off the timetables for both IPM plans but it looks like work on both can start up very soon.

An IPM plan — something done across the state by the State Fish and Wildlife Commission, for example, for each of the 400 plus bodies of water under FWC management — has some basic elements. First identify the problem pest or weeds and understand the lifecycle, then explore all alternative control methods, spell out the pros and cons of each, and then, with major public input, choose the best management alternative.

That is what the city is doing for the parks and rec areas and will do for the canals and ponds. City staff — Kimberly Haigler and Brian Benton — are doing an excellent job of moving ahead on the first IPM, and Ken Griffin, director of the city stormwater department, is committed to completing an IPM for the canals. They are working with a sub committee of the Natural Resources Board and there has been opportunity to date to get ideas from the public.

So what are the alternative weed management options? They come in four categories: mechanical, physical, biological and chemical. Biological includes letting predator bugs or fish lose to eat the weeds. Within the chemical, there are any number of substances and every one comes with side effects. Some are controversial — such as RoundUp which contains glyphosate — and some are natural products (such as white vinegar and salt mixtures) that may or may not be effective in different aquatic environments. In Brevard County they have just invested in a mechanical harvester that works rather like a giant floating lawn mower in ponds and canals.

Fixing the Sebastian canals is a much bigger project than controlling aquatic weeds. Some sections will need expensive dredging — restoring the canal bottoms and sides to inhibit growth of invasive aquatic species and stabilizing the banks at the same time. There are sections of the canals that are overgrown with Brazilian Pepper, other sections with sand bars and in some cases palm trees growing in the canal bed. All these obstacles impede the water flow and could prove a danger to people and private property during storm events.

So as you can see, managing pests and weeds is a complex task and could prove relatively expensive. Simply rushing to a spray bottle is not enough. All you do is kill the weeds (and fishes), they die and decay on the canal or pond bottom and contribute to the organic and muck pollution flowing to the St. Sebastian River and Indian River Lagoon — the ultimate destination of all the harmful contaminants and fertilizers we spread carelessly across both urban and rural landscapes.

Thank you.

Graham Cox, Ph.D.

Abandoned Vessels

This is totally wrong! This vessel was described with a known owner. Why are we paying to pick up his mess?

My guess is all of these boats were registered. The owner should be responsible for removal and fined if not done in a reasonable time.

This makes NO SENSE!

Raymond Stickney

Abandoned Vessels

Owners should pay for removal, not taxpayers.

Mac McLaughlin

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About Andy Hodges 2805 Articles
Andy Hodges was born in Annapolis, Maryland, and raised in Jupiter, Florida. He has been a radio and TV personality since the mid-1980s. He has worked for WFLX-TV (Fox 29), WIRK, WLIZ, WIXI, WKSY, WRMF, and others. In 1994, Andy took a break from broadcasting and was a software and systems engineer for various companies. In 2002, he permanently moved back to Sebastian, where Andy's family has lived for over 45 years. He returned to the broadcasting sector in 2005. Andy joined Sebastian Daily as our editor-in-chief in 2016.