Delta F.A.R.M - Farmers Advocating Resource Management
Delta F.A.R.M.

News and Reports > Update on Water Hyacinth Control Measures in Steele Bayou

Water Hyacinth
Rolling Fork’s Kelly Perry “Walking on Water”. He is standing almost in the middle of Steele Bayou on the mat of water hyacinth after his airboat got “stuck”.

Joint efforts between the Mississippi Levee Board and Delta Wildlife/Delta F.A.R.M are currently underway to address water hyacinth issues on Steele Bayou. Water hyacinth differs from other aquatic plants in several ways resulting in its invasive and damaging behavior. Hyacinth is a free floating aquatic plant, basically meaning it can grow anywhere regardless of water depth because its roots do not need to attach to a substrate. It is capable of incredible growth rates, populations can double in size within 12 days producing up to 400,000 pounds of biomass per acre. Hyacinth patches can completely block boat access and hinder or eliminate fishing and swimming. Although some aquatic plants are beneficial to fish as they provide brood and escape cover for bait and game fish, water hyacinth tends to dominate an area depleting the water of dissolved oxygen which can result in fish kills. Hyacinth also shades out desirable submersed aquatic plants and overtakes native emergent aquatic plants resulting in lower quality habitat and reduced biodiversity.

Control of water hyacinth is being obtained through mechanical and chemical methods. Efforts began last summer and fall when herbicide was applied to water hyacinth between Highways 14 and 436. This effort was successful in reducing water hyacinth in many areas. However, the large mat at Hampton remained. This past spring, the Washington County Drainage District and MDOT provided a track hoe, dump trucks, and traffic control for the removal of this large mat of water hyacinth. This particular mat ranged from 3 to 6 ft deep and weighed a minimum of 300,000 pounds. The mat acted as a filter, trapping sediment and debris flowing downstream in Steele Bayou basically forming a “floating island” allowing other aquatic and terrestrial weeds to grow in the middle of the channel. Serving not only as a source population for downstream spread, the mat was also a safety hazard to the Hwy 1 bridge itself by multiplying the force of flowing water, especially during high water events. As you can tell by the following photograph, boat travel is extremely difficult, even for an airboat. Follow up efforts are also underway to address the remaining patches of water hyacinth as identified by a recent aerial survey.