GEORGE NEWS - Members of the Outeniqua Canoe Club, who regularly row on the Garden Route Dam, have been pressing George Municipality over the past two months to urgently spray the rapidly spreading Kariba weed on the dam and Kat River inlet.
The club's communications official, Rouen Heiberg, and other concerned residents such as Dean Chandler, who lives in Eden on the edge of the water, have been asking the municipality for urgent intervention while the weed was still in concentrated patches and stuck on the banks.
"What is concerning is that people started drawing attention to this at the beginning of November when the problem was still easily manageable," said Chandler.
"Unfortunately with the hot weather, another two and a half months of vigorous growth has brought us to the level we are at now."
By Monday 11 January, nothing had been done and Heiberg in an e-mail expressed frustration that the spread has been allowed to escalate to a point where the weed is covering large areas of water like a thick carpet. "[It] is now a complete disaster. There are large concentrations at the Kat River pump station and at the back of the short arm of the dam."
Heiberg said it has become almost impossible for canoeists to paddle through the weed.
In e-mail communications during the past two months, municipal officials said the delay in spraying was due to the supply chain committee that had to appoint a contractor.
Community Services acting director Allen Paulse said a contractor has now been appointed and spraying will take place as soon as the weather is suitable.
"It must be sunny for a long enough period to ensure the plants sufficiently take up the herbicide."
Kariba weed was first noticed in the Garden Route Dam in 2013. Since then, flare-ups of infestation have been controlled through spraying a herbicide.
In 2016 the Department of Environmental Affairs made an attempt at introducing biological control by releasing a number of weevils, a tiny beetle that feeds on the weed, but this has not proved successful in the long term.
Kariba weed can grow so thick that it blocks out sunlight and oxygen, with disastrous consequences for other aquatic life.
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