Rockhampton Regional Council has this week begun treatment of large areas of Hyacinth floating upstream in the Fitzroy River.
Planning and Regulation Councillor Grant Mathers says the time has come to commence aerial spraying of the expansive coverage of the invasive aquatic weed, for the health of the river system.
“The aerial spraying by helicopter is now the only viable option we have to treat the masses of weed in the river upstream,” Cr Mathers said.
“Council officers have been attempting to control the Water Hyacinth with biological control agents and by ground spraying from our boat.
“However, the masses upstream are now at a stage whereby unless additional measures are put in place, the health of the river and the use by our residents, will be severely impacted.
“Water Hyacinth impacts waterways by reducing fish production, harbouring mosquitoes, blocking water pump inlets, boat passages and impacting recreational uses.
“This option is considered the most appropriate short term control measure to reduce bulk quantities of Hyacinth.
“We were really hoping that by now we would have received the kind of wet season needed to break up the masses and send smaller patches downstream.
“While we have seen some of these smaller patches float down, it has by no means been enough to break up what can only be described as huge islands of weed, choking up sections of the river.
“The spray being used is a targeted herbicide called Apparent Affray 300, and is registered for aerial spraying by helicopter.
“It is the exact same spray that our officers use when spraying from the boat.
“Although the weed is a massive issue beyond our local government area, Council had to take decisive action if it was to protect the waterways in our catchment.
“We recently sent out a letter to advise neighbouring landholders to the Fitzroy River of the upcoming aerial spraying, and liaised with our Livingstone Shire counterparts that this would be taking place.
“Council remains committed to and is in consultation with, other organisations on longer term sustainable methods to control the Water Hyacinth such as weed harvesting.”
Aerial footage of the Hyacinth taken 23 June 2021 can be found here https://rockhamptonregion.sharefile.com/d-s558258a593894d6389a328e4300d6ab0
All spraying will be conducted in accordance with the Apparent Affray 300 label instructions and include – using an appropriate licensed operator, with spray droplets no smaller than very coarse size, with a maximum release height of 3m or 25% of rotor diameter and appropriate buffer zones observed.