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Water hyacinth is the most invasive and rapidly proliferating aquatic weed in the world. It is currently covering more than 30% of the surface of the Hartbeespoort (Harties) Dam in South Africa’s North West Province.
The Department of Water and Sanitation have for the last ten years ran a programme called “Metse a Me” aimed at keeping the water hyacinth and algae at bay on the dam.
However, allegations of corruption and infighting, have seen the department abruptly pulled the plug on this otherwise successful programme.
Lack of Maintenance Causes Water Hyacinth Problem to Escalate
As part of the programme, a barrier was put in place at the bridge over the Magalies river. This kept most of the hyacinth off the dam and any stray pieces on the dam were removed manually. But due to a lack of maintenance, the barrier broke during heavy rains allowing the mass of weed behind it to float onto the dam itself.
Today, millions of these water hyacinth plants are covering vast areas of Hartbeespoort dam making water activities like boating and fishing virtually impossible.
Recreational Users no Longer Safe
The problem has reached elevated levels and is now becoming a danger to recreational users of the Dam.
A News report from the Independent Online in September, 2017, stated “Dense hyacinth on the Hartbeespoort Dam proved to be more of an obstacle than two boaters had anticipated and they had to spend Saturday night on their boat trapped in the weeds before being rescued on Sunday, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.”
Here’s an interesting video from Deon van Huizen about this very serious problem. Many thanks to Mitchell Krog for permission to use his images.