Salvinia Closes Brandy Branch Reservoir To Boaters

A stealthy aquatic invader is making unwanted appearances in east Texas lakes. The latest discovery of giant salvinia is at the Brandy Branch reservoir on f-m 3251 just south of I-20 near Hallsville.

"Its an uphill battle we're at the bottom of the hill right now" says Texas parks and wildlife Texas fresh water fisheries biologist Tim Bister.

Biologists say a fisherman inadvertently brought giant salvinia to the Brandy Branch reservoir attached to his boat on Sunday, and since then an effort to contain the noxious weed has been non-stop.

"In optimum growing conditions it can double its population size in 5 to 7 days" Bister says.

But yesterday the weed was found outside the containment area.

"We found some more giant salvinia in and amongst the cat-tails" says Bister.

The problem with giant salvinia is it grows at an accelerated rate, they've got to get every last piece of it missing one piece means it will be back. It is notorious for blocking out sunlight and turning thriving fishing areas into lifeless pools. Getting it under control is urgent.

"If we miss one giant salvinia plant trying to remove all of it from this area that one plant can create a whole new infestation" Bister says.

The reservoir provides cooling water for Swepco's Pirkey Power plant. The water around the plant stays warm which is perfect for the weed.

"The water is warmer than other area reservoirs so it can get a jump start on growth in spring" says Bister.

If the weed should spread to other lakes, the long term consequences could be disastrous. Lost of fishing areas, and millions lost in fishing revenues.

"It can make someone's favorite cove into a place where there isn't going to be any more fish" says Bister.

The weed has been found in Caddo and lake Palestine.

"As giant salvinia gets spread to more and more locations it gives it more jumping off points to be spread" he says.

Transporting giant salvinia is a class C misdemeanor,  so biologists urge boaters to clean their boats thoroughly before taking it to another lake.

Bob Hallmark reporting/