In July, the last known patches of Giant Salvinia, an invasive and aggressive aquatic plant at the Barnett Reservoir, were eliminated.
The vegetation was treated with multiple chemicals and then removed, according the Pearl River Water Valley Supply District (PRWVSD) spokesperson, Bobby Cleveland.
“This year, after eliminating 95 percent of the salvinia, we reopened,” said Cleveland.
The reopening is a hopeful sign that the Giant Salvinia can be beaten.
“We may not have won the war yet, but we have beaten it darn near into submission,” said Cleveland.
He, along with board members at the PRWVSD, have been waging a war on the plant species Giant Salvinia. The plant kills other aquatic vegetation, animals, and prevents boats from being able to propel without getting entangled in the plant.
This summer, after six months of Giant Salvinia being absent from the lake, the cleanup team discovered the unwelcomed guest.
“Six months went by without seeing anything,” Cleveland said, “then, in a routine check, we were in a burned out and dried up area and found four new colonies.”
Cleveland explained that the new colonies were around five by eight feet, not very large. Apparently a stray piece survived on the underside of a log in the mud. When the spring water came and raised the water levels, the log was lifted afloat and sent the plant back into the waterway.
“That’s how hard of a plant we are facing to kill. We are dealing with a plant that is devious.”
Being a fern, a tiny piece can make a whole new plant, and it can duplicate in size in just 48 hours. Over the course of six months, that piece can become the size of a cove.
Three boat cleaning stations were installed: one at the Pelahatchie Bay on the shore park, one at the Madison Landing near Cock of the Walk, and one in Goshen Springs near the Highway 43 boat landing. Highway 43 is the primary location where people launch their boats. Using the cleaning stations is not required, but recommended.
“When we have fishing tournaments, and we attract people from across state lines—Louisiana, Arkansas, places where salvinia is a bigger problem than here—we make them present a plan on how they will inspect their boats. They have to make sure that there is no visible free-hanging vegetation on their boats. These fishermen have to sign a waiver.”
This summer, there were several local tournaments with high school and college aged people.
Currently the lake is open except for one section. That section is the origin of the Salvinia.
“The PRVWSD and its partners with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and Mississippi State University will continue to monitor the Salvinia Management Area and neighboring areas and treat when necessary,” said Cleveland.
The water levels will be lowered this winter as usual. Recently the lowering of the lake has also helped fight off the salvinia in the winter. Officials are hoping winter will deliver the Giant Salvinia a fatal blow.