Water weed fights back in Binh Duong

Update: June, 26/2014 - 08:53
Authorities in the southern province of Binh Duong have spent more than a billion dong to remove water hyacinth from canals and rivers.— Photo binhduong

BINH DUONG — Authorities in the southern province of Binh Duong have spent more than a billion dong to remove water hyacinth from canals and rivers, but the weed appears to be one step ahead of them.

The non-native invasive alien species is growing faster than it is being cleared, local reports say.

The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment says it spent more than VND1.1 billion (US$56,750) to remove about 3,500 tonnes of water hyacinth from the Sai Gon River and many canals in the province last month.

First, about 2,630 tonnes of weeds were removed at the cost of VND584 million ($27,800), followed by the next round, during which VND608 million ($28,950) was spent on clearing more than 896 tonnes.

Department director Pham Danh said the second time was a massive manual exercise with thousands of people mobilised for the purpose.

Workers mainly used ropes to section off the water hyacinth into small clusters and then attempted to pull them ashore before taking them to local garbage dumps.

The manual methond cost nearly VND700,000 ($33) per tonne, Danh said, noting that the use of cutting machines, done the first time, cost just VND220,000 ($10) per tonne.

However, after just one month, the Sai Gon River, which plays an important role in irrigation and waterways transport, was clogged again with the weed.

Several dozen kilometres of the river are now completely covered by the weed.

Danh said the immensely thick water hyacinth has blocked the flow of water and caused difficulties for waterway transport

He said authorised agencies only cleared part of the river passing the province and part of the river passing HCM City and southern Tay Ninh remained immense. The weeds were drifted to southern Binh Duong water area due to high tides and quickly re-covering the river surface.

Tran Ba Luan, deputy director of the provincial Department of Transport said the relevant authorities should work together to research on the growth of the weed and the effective methods to clear it.

Useful applications

He suggested that the authority should use the State budget to collect the seed of the weed for food and use the plant itself as raw material for handicraft items.

Handbags and baskets were among products that have proved popular among consumers.

Tran Van Nam, vice chairman of the provincial People's Committee, said the authority plans to hire a firm to take care of the weed problem every year.

In rainy seasons, the discharge of water from the Dau Tieng Lake brings some relief as the weed cannot grow in salt water.

The non-native plant (Eichhornia crassipes) is among the world's top 100 invasive alien species. It was first seen in Viet Nam in 1902.

The weed is said to be an indicator of serious environmental pollution, reducing oxygen in water, killing fish and blocking waterway transport. — VNS