While it’s great the treatment to eradicate the egeria densa in the Delta has begun, we must remember the fight that seems to reoccur each year to ensure a treatment even takes places. Without a strong advocate for the Delta in Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, the ramifications of non-treatment would cause a disaster on local the local economy and recreation activities.
Since 2010, Supervisor Piepho and others have been working (some may call it fighting) with the State to ensure the Delta receive its much needed treatment. Each year, the state decides it wants to play games where it takes many additional meetings and negotiations to ensure the treatment occurs.
If you ask me, it’s a waste of time when the state could simply issue the permit and treatment can occur without hesitation. Over the past few years, Supervisor Piepho and others have had a number of meetings just to bring attention to this local issue in order to get the state to act.
Last year, it was decided this year was the year the Delta was not going to even receive treatment thanks to the state’s budget. Led by Supervisor Piepho and others, they worked diligently with the State to ensure funding and permits were made available.
“We are thrilled to finally get a permit. We would have liked to have seen the treatment in March or April before the boating season is underway, but there was a permit issue. That has now been straightened out,” said Supervisor Piepho. “A permit would not have been allowed this late in the year if it would have not been safe to people and the Delta. This was our window of opportunity and is the best option for our community.”
While the State was being stingy (my words, not the Supervisor’s), Piepho explained the treatment couldn’t have happened without the support of Lucia Becerra, Acting Director at the California Department of Boating and Waterways.
An agreement was worked out this spring with other lawmakers to allow the treatment to move forward, but the permit was on hold which finally was approved.
“We hit the jackpot with Lucia Becerra helping us. She has been our hero and has never given up the fight. She has been so supportive in helping the Delta,” stated Supervisor Piepho. “We had such a great benefit to the treatment last year that leadership at the Department of Boating and Waterways feels it’s a two-step process to keep weeds in the bends.”
The egeria densa is a shallow-water submerged aquatic plant from Brazil that was introduced into the Delta 40 years ago which now effects 6,000 surface areas or roughly 12% of the Delta. This fast growing plant has spread at a rate of approximately 100 acres each year depending on environmental conditions which is why it raised resident concerns two-years ago.
At a cost of roughly $2,000 an acre, the treatment of this plant is not an easy task as the roots stick to rocks and silt at depths of eight to ten feet. When one tries to remove the plant by hand, it causes particles to break away and multiple other plants to be formed—it causes clogged bays and water ways. While the treatment program was added in 1997, it did not actually begin until 2001 due to litigation.
Due to the significant infestation, the state operates a “control” program as opposed to an “eradication” program. It is not expected that Water Hyacinth and Egeria Densa will ever be eradicated from the Delta area.
It’s no secret that it appears next year’s treatment could be in serious jeopardy if Governor Brown’s proposal is accepted. In the 378-page proposal (GRP#2), it would enact a number of eliminations, reorganizations and consolidations of state agencies and departments. The key provisions for boating would merge the Department of Boating and Waterways into the Department of Parks and Recreation and eliminate the Boating and Waterways Commission.
Supervisor Piepho believes the best way to help reduce the egeria densa problem is to have local control to allow for treatments, but admits it’s a long process and a long shot.
“There is no local authority to treat the waterway. I am working to get control from the State so we can have more local control, but it is a long process and takes time,” said Supervisor Piepho.
She explained that while there is no local control, it has to be a collaborative effort by many so that local commerce is not affected in the area. She does not want to see weeds create significant havoc for boaters, fisherman and those who rely on summer recreation for their livelihood.
She is right, without local control, the folks of Discovery Bay, Bethel Island and other areas along the Delta will continue to feel the pain of the state and federal bureaucratic processes. It’s been explained many times over the last few years that there is just more plant than there is funding available.
In the meantime, she will continue to the Federal and State Governments on the proper permits for Water Hyacinth treatment and other invasive species while continuing to work on preventative measures through public education outreach and possible legislation.
So while folks are made aware the treatment has begun, it’s a treatment that would have not occurred had Supervisor Piepho not been focused on this issue and given it the attention it deserves.
Areas to be treated include:
- Bethel Island – Taylor Slough, Piper Slough, Dutch Slough and Sand Mound Slough
- Coney Island – Rivers End
- Wright’s Tract – 14 Mile Slough and Village West
- King Island – Honker Cut, White Slough, Disappointment Slough and Bishop Cut
- Lower Jones Tract – Whisky Slough
- Steamboat Slough
- Sycamore Slough.
- Orwood Island and Byron Tract – Discovery Bay (west side and portions of the East side, Beaver Bay, Harbor Bay and Indian Bay)
Here is last years 14-week treatment provided by Supervisor Piepho’s staff. Click the image to enlarge.