Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic Invasive Weeds Treatment Update:
 
The Division of Boating & Waterways has treated for Egeria Densa, Curlyleaf Pondweed, Spongeplant and Water Hyacinth within Discovery Bay West this year.
 
Herbicide applications for all 2015 Egeria Densa and Curlyleaf Pondweed treatment sites except Discovery Bay were completed during the last week of May. Based on observed treatment symptoms and water quality monitoring results (herbicide residues), the treatment plan in Discovery Bay will be extended.
 
According to the agency, extended treatment will follow a bi-weekly schedule, occurring every other week, beginning on June 22.  The final herbicide application is anticipated to be completed during the week of September 21.  Applications will be conducted during the hours of 7am to 4pm bi-weekly, Monday thru Friday. Herbicide applications during the time-frame will utilize Fluridone (Sonar) only.
 
Per DBW, it is important that area residents refrain from putting any herbicides in the water.  Also of particular importance noted by DBW staff is the very strong influence that tidal motion has in Discovery Bay, which prevents the required residence time for the fluridone to act by the products design.
 
The treatment schedule is as follows:
 
Week of June 22
Week of July 6
Week of July 20
Week of August 3
Week of August 17
Week of September 7
Week of September 21
 
For Water Hyacinth and Spongeplant, DBW began treatment on March 4, 2015 and will continue until November 30, 2015. Spraying will be conducted during the hours of 7am to 4pm weekly, Monday through Friday.  Herbicide applications during the treatment period will utilize Glyphosate (Roundup Custom), Imazamoz (Clearcast) and 2, 4-D (Weedar).  Per DBW, 2, 4-D, may be used in the legal Delta between June 15th and September 15th, and the southern sites between July 15th and August 15th.  The agency reports that treatment sites and schedules for all aquatic invasive weed species are subject to change based on regulatory requirements, weather conditions, plant growth and movement, waterway traffic, listed fish presence surveys and other conditions.
 
To learn where and what weekly weed treatments are happening in our area, I encourage you to sign-up for the DBW public weekly treatment notification email service at the Division of Boating and Waterways’ website http://dbw.parks.ca.gov/Environmental/Aquatic.aspx. Just follow the link titled “Click Here To Join Our Weekly Treatment Notification.”
 
I am proud of the progress we’ve made to address the aquatic invasive weed challenges in our region this year, and know that our efforts must continue.  Please join me in keeping our waterways in the forefront of the Division of Boating & Waterways effort by reporting all aquatic invasive weed sightings to the Aquatic Weed Control Program staff by phone at (1) 888-326-2822 or by email at AIS@parks.ca.gov.
 
Thank you for the critical part you played in alerting the Division of Boating & Waterways to the aquatic invasive weeds impact in our region.

As a lifelong Delta resident, I value the economic, environmental and recreational opportunities this region provides. To protect this vital resource, it is important that all agencies and stakeholders work together to thoughtfully mitigate aquatic invasive plant species in the Delta.

Earlier this year, I hosted a town hall where Discovery Bay residents had an opportunity to address many of these critical issues with state agencies.

In an effort to keep community members informed about the ongoing management of the Delta, I've created an aquatic invasive weeds page to provide updates and resources.

Here you’ll find:

  • Answers to community questions provided by the overseeing federal and state agencies as they become available.
  • Current information about the 2014 treatment plans for aquatic invasive weeds
  • Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) handouts about weed abatement methods you may utilize locally
  • Copies of the Division of Boating and State Water Resource Control Board presentations
  • Contact information for state and federal agencies involved in the aquatic weed management effort
  • Tips about how to clean your boats, watercraft and recreational equipment

Help fight the spread of aquatic invasive weeds today by reporting weed sightings to the Division of Boating & Waterways at pubinfo@parks.ca.gov or 1 (888) 326-2822.

Please feel free to contact my Capitol or District offices if you have any questions.

Fact Sheet 1

Fact Sheet 2

Aquatic Invasive Species Q&A

Audience Questions from AIS Meeting*:

What has caused our increase in invasive weeds? Increased water exports? Can local residents or Rec 800 receive a permit to apply chemicals?

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) can issue a section 10(a)(1)(B) Incidental Take Permit to local residents or Rec 800. NMFS recommends that before applying for an individual permit, the applicant should determine if the proposed project is part of another authorized activity. NMFS encourages applicants to coordinate with others doing similar work to minimize duplication and the impact on listed species. The permit processing time between receipt of a complete application to the issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) Incidental Take Permit, including federal registry notification and public comment, can be up to a year and cost several hundred thousand dollars. These are typically maximums and depend on project controversy, staff or workload challenges, or other reasons that make delays unavoidable. However, in many cases actual processing times will be less than a year. If two applicants are collaborating on the same activities, they are encouraged to apply for a single permit.

Can residents, after a training course, to distribute a given amount of chemicals into their water to treat the weed. The resident would be responsible for half the cost.

The residents must consider the ESA’s section 9 prohibition of take against a listed species during the distribution of chemicals into waters. Take is defined under the ESA as "to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct." If not, the resident would be at risk of ESA section 11 penalties and enforcement.

Can DBW deputize third parties to treat Egeria densa if they are not? Can any individual obtain a permit to treat invasive aquatic weeds with herbicides or is this just the purview of DBW?

Individuals can obtain an ESA section 10(a)(1)(B) Incidental Take Permit (ITP) to treat invasive aquatic weeds with herbicides. As previously stated above, the permit processing time between receipt of a complete application to the issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) Incidental Take Permit, including federal registry notification and public comment can be up to a year and cost several hundred dollars. These are typically maximums and depend on project controversy, staff or workload challenges, or other reasons that make delays unavoidable. However, in many cases, actual processing times will be less than a year.

What is the long-term plan to treat AIS now and in the future? Is this information laid out somewhere?

The California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW), United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and Assembly member Jim Frazier’s office (hereafter, “stakeholders”), have agreed to work on a more holistic and comprehensive aquatic invasive plant species (AIS) management plan in the Delta. The current AIS control programs are based on a species-by-species approach. The new proposed AIS approach is one comprehensive program that incorporates all current and potential future AIS control activities, rather than address individual weeds. This shifts the focus from a particular plant species to treatment methods used to control multiple invasive species (e.g., chemical, mechanical, physical, and biological).
 
NMFS has completed multi-year consultations on individual AIS control programs which include: water hyacinth, Egeria densa, and spongeplant, so USDA and DBW can treat those aquatic weeds while stakeholders work on development of the comprehensive plan.
 
At present, DBW and USDA have the necessary permits and authorization to treat only water hyacinth, Egeria densa, and spongeplant; however DBW is resource limited in their ability to treat all areas infested with above mentioned weeds.
 
Moving forward, DBW is authorized, through Assembly Bill 763, to treat new invasive species. AB 763 authorizes the DBW to furnish money, services, equipment, and other property for the control of those invasive plants to determine which species of those plants should be given the highest priority for management and to determine the best control, and, when feasible, eradication measures. Again, although new authorizations have been issued, DBW is likely resource limited (i.e., funding) in their ability to address all aquatic plant identified as noxious species.

One organization/agency must take charge. With everyone in charge, no one is in charge. The organization/agency in charge must have some access to funds which the state administers.

NMFS recognizes the importance of educating the public on the role of section 7 consultation, to assist Federal action agencies in their compliance with the ESA. NMFS’ role is to analyze the effects of actions proposed by Federal agencies; in this case, to apply herbicide to treat invasive plant species; and to advise the agency, through a biological opinion (if applicable), how they can conduct the activity in a way that avoids jeopardy to ESA-listed species, including salmon and steelhead. The successful development and implementation of a comprehensive AIS plan for the Delta will include numerous stakeholders with access to resources that will help achieve the desired outcome of “a well-informed” public for protection of our natural resources.

What do you need from us (the constituents)?

We need a constant dialogue between agencies, legislators, and you. Make sure to follow the guidelines set down by the agencies, and continually raising your voices about issues that affect you.

Is it possible for residents to hire independent applicators?

Yes, but you have to apply for the proper permits.

What are the agencies doing to help solve the problem of AIS?

They have spent over a million dollars treating the weeds, and they have done 3 years of treatment when 2 years is the norm.

Can the citizens of Discovery Bay create an organization similar to Reclamation District 800, to collect money from citizens for treatment of weeds?

The citizens can do that and we will provide information to town leaders about how to start that process.

Why are permits and procedures of interest to me and how do we fix the weeds?

Permits and procedures, as discussed in the presentation, are important because we do not want individuals to spray themselves without following proper procedures. Otherwise, you might damage the natural habitat and aquatic plants and animals living in that area.

How much will a permit cost (card does not specify which permit)?

Coverage under the Water Board’s Aquatic Weed Control Permit (Order 2013-0002-DWQ) is currently $2,062/year.

Does a permit cost $2,000? Is the permit per individual or can one permit serve an entire bay?

Coverage under the Water Board’s Aquatic Weed Control Permit is currently $2,062/year. The permit would typically be issued to the Home Owners’ Association or some other local governing entity and not to an individual; however, we can issue a permit to an individual

Where does the money that treats the weeds come from?

It comes from a special gas tax and an additional payment that residents make when they use their boat in the Delta.

What treatment plans are there for the weeds this year?

This area is not on the schedule for treatment this year.

What can be done now to address this problem?

You can pull the weeds out by hand or rake them, but you have to make sure to get all the particles of the weed otherwise the weed could continue to spread.

Weeds do not grow in deeper water, why can’t we do a one-time dredge?

Dredging could happen but it will cost a great deal of money and a permit would need to be obtained through the US Army Corp of Engineers. In addition, water quality certification from the Water Board is needed.

What has caused increased amounts of invasive weeds?

After the reduction in Egeria densa, the ecosystem replaced the old weed with a new more invasive plant. The agencies would like to plant more native plants which grow more slowly and might help combat the weed problem.

  • Why can we not dredge just once?
    We can look into it; however, it will take time before dredging could happen. We want to try to find a realistic long term solution to the weed problem.
  • The weeds this year are very bad, why? What is being done?
    There are new weeds in the Delta that arrived from boats. When people use their boats in places where different kinds of weeds grow, the particles attach to the boat. Then, when that same boat is placed back in the Delta, the new weeds take root here. We only became aware of this problem very recently, which means it will take time before the invasive weed problem can be solved.
How can we create a tax, similar to what happened in Tahoe, which will allocate money to deal with the weeds in the Delta?

We are taking ideas from experts and citizens alike in order to create legislation that will address the issue of the weeds in the Delta.

Why did treatment of the weeds start so late?

It takes quite a long time to get permits to treat the weed problem in the Delta. When the Assemblyman creates a bill to try and solve the weed problem, he would appreciate it if people could come to Sacramento and testify in the legislature. This way the legislature will understand the extent of the problem.

How can voters help stop the spread of invasive weeds?

When pulling up weeds you have to make sure to get every single particle. You must also make sure not to dispose of the weeds in the water, remove them from the water completely. It is also important to note that weeds cannot be eradicated, but their growth and spread can be controlled.

Why can’t we do weed control in the winter?

You are only allowed to treat between March 1st and October 15th because of certain migratory fish in the Delta.

Is the information from the slides available for download on a website?

Information on the Water Board’s Aquatic Weed Control Permit and other related information is available here.

Why are you discussing pesticides when we need herbicides? Skipping a year in application does not seem to be efficient. How are we able to get a permit if the state does not do its job?

Coverage under the Water Board’s Aquatic Weed Control Permit would typically be sought by a Home Owners’ Association or some other local governing entity and not to an individual however, we can issue coverage under the permit to an individual. Refer to the following link for permit information and application forms, click here.

Considering the massive scope of the Delta weed issue as well as limited funding, is it time to consider some kind of an agency like Rec 800 to collect funds from homeowners to assure annual attention and treatment here in Discovery Bay?

If Reclamation District 800 agreed to manage aquatic weeds in Discovery Bay, it could submit an amendment to its Aquatic Pesticide Application Plan to the Water Board to include application of aquatic pesticides in Discovery Bay. Modification of Reclamation District 800’s permit coverage would take the Water Board staff approximately 45 days to process from receipt of the modification request to staff’s approval of the modification.

Can residents, after a training course, to distribute a given amount of chemicals into their water to treat the weed. The resident would be responsible for half the cost.

In order to apply any quantity of pesticides or other chemicals to Discovery Bay waters, the resident would have to first obtain coverage under the Water Board’s Aquatic Weed Control Permit to treat the weeds. Distributing chemicals into Discovery Bay waters without a permit can result in significant monetary penalties and, potentially, criminal prosecution.

Can DBW deputize third parties to treat Egeria densa if they are not? Can any individual obtain a permit to treat invasive aquatic weeds with herbicides or is this just the purview of DBW?

A home owners’ association, local governing entity, or an individual can obtain coverage under the Water Board’s Aquatic Weed Control Permit to treat areas they own or have authority to treat. However, it would be more cost effective for a home owners’ association or a local governing entity to apply for coverage under the permit due to the cost involved in complying with the permit. In addition, a home owners’ association or a local agency has more expertise and resources to run and implement an eradication program more effectively and efficiently.

Can a private entity like a HOA work with the other agencies to get a license to treat IAS and who is authorized to dispense fluridone? How does an applicator get certified? Which agency determines approval?

Yes, an HOA can apply for coverage under the Water Board’s Aquatic Weed Control Permit. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation certifies pesticide applicators. A certified pesticide applicator can dispense fluridone if the application area is covered under the Aquatic Weed Control Permit. The process for becoming a certified pesticide applicator can be referenced at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s website. The Water Board reviews the applications for coverage under the Aquatic Weed Control Permit and approves applications for coverage under the permit.

What chemicals are in Sonar? (It’s a pond weed treatment sold over the net. No fishing or swimming restrictions. Controls plants all season by killing the roots). Is that something that could be approved for use?

The active ingredient in Sonar is fluridone. In order to apply any quantity of pesticides or other chemicals to Discovery Bay waters, the resident would have to first obtain coverage under the Water Board’s Aquatic Weed Control Permit to treat the weeds. Distributing chemicals into Discovery Bay waters without a permit can result in significant monetary penalties and, potentially, criminal prosecution.

Are there professional herbicide applicator businesses? Is there someone locals can hire to distribute the fluridone? If so, will the DBW pay for it?

Yes, there are numerous businesses that apply aquatic herbicides for weed control.
 
*Questions have been answered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service and the California State Water Resources Control Board.

Frequently Asked Questions - Water Hyacinth

What is water hyacinth?
Water hyacinth is an attractive floating aquatic plant with shiny green leaves and delicate lavender flowers. It was introduced into the Delta from South America more than 100 years ago, and it is currently considered a major non-native weed species in the world.  Its rate of growth is among the highest of any known plant.

In California waterways, water hyacinth populations can double in size in as little as two weeks, which sends off short runner stems that create new plants. It can also reproduce by seeds, which can live in the mud of a waterway for up to 20 years.

Who is responsible for treating water hyacinth?
The California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (formerly, the Department of Boating and Waterways) has been the lead agency in controlling this weed since 1983 via the Water Hyacinth Control Program (WHCP). Every year, Boating and Waterways (DBW) runs a control program of this weed through the use of herbicides, as permitted by federal and state entities. The control program usually runs from March through November, to not interfere with migrating fish.

How does the Aquatic Weed Control Program work?
DBW has the authority to cooperate with other state, local and federal agencies in controlling water hyacinth in the Delta region, its tributaries and the Suisun Marsh.  Surveys are conducted in the Delta every year to determine where water hyacinth is located and which areas are in most need of treatment. Surveys are also conducted to determine what agricultural crops are growing near treatment sites.

How are treatment sites selected?
At the start of the treatment season, DBW prioritizes treatment sites based on results of pre-season field surveys, combined with the staff’s experience and knowledge of water hyacinth growth patterns and distribution. Site prioritization considers whether or not the site is a nursery area, infestation levels, and whether the site is important for navigation, public safety, recreation and/or commercial use, and water intakes or pumping facilities. Initial plans will indicate the general priority for site selection. During the treatment season, herbicide treatment plans can be modified due to surrounding crop surveys, weather conditions, growth and movement of water hyacinth, and environmental considerations (water quality, endangered species, etc.). The site selection process also considers information and concerns received via email and phone from the public.

What approvals or permits are required?
The approval process determines if herbicide usage may affect any of the threatened, endangered or sensitive species, and critical habitats. Effects to humans, agricultural areas or potable water intakes are also reviewed. Approvals place restrictions on where DBW can treat the plants, when and where the program can start herbicide treatments (this varies throughout the Delta region), and an extensive water monitoring program. Extensive water quality sampling is conducted at treatments sites throughout the season to ensure herbicide levels stay within the allowed limits.

DBW works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to obtain the required approvals for conducting the Water Hyacinth Control Program from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS - part of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). These two approvals are required by the Endangered Species Act.

A third approval, a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is required by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The WHCP has obtained all required permits without a need for a renewal until 2017. The NPDES Permit was obtained in 2013. The USFWS Biological Opinion (BO) was obtained March 13, 2013 and the NMFS Concurrence Letter was received on February 27, 2013. The USFWS BO and NMFS Letter are 5-year permits from 2013-2017. DBW is permitted to conduct herbicide treatment for water hyacinth from early spring to mid-fall.  Herbicides are registered with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

Where does the funding come from?
Funding for water hyacinth treatment comes from the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund, which receives revenues from boaters’ registration fees and gas taxes.

What does DBW do to control the weed?
DBW is permitted to treat 3,500 acres of Water Hyacinth in the following areas:

  • West up to and including Sherman Island at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers.
  • North to the confluence of the Sacramento River and the Sacramento Deep Water Channel, plus Lake Natoma.
  • South along the San Joaquin to Mendota.
  • All the tributaries to the San Joaquin, Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus rivers.

The Division currently has 12 personnel to treat affected areas within its area of responsibility. This breaks down to two 6-person crews.

For the months between March and November, water hyacinth is chemically treated with glyphosate or 2,4-D. Herbicides are registered for aquatic use with California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The herbicides are systemic herbicides in liquid form, sprayed directly onto the water hyacinth.

Initial symptoms of glyphosate treatment on water hyacinth do not appear for two weeks or more, although symptoms for 2, 4-D appear sooner than the glyphosate symptoms. Visible treatment symptoms are gradual wilting and yellowing of the plant, advancing to browning of vegetation and eventual decay. It may take two months for herbicide effectiveness to be clearly visible.

In the 2014 season, 2,617 acres of water hyacinth were treated with glyphosate and 2,4-D. 

Are there any alternative methods to remove the weed, other than the herbicides?
The use of herbicides is one of the methods used to control water hyacinth. The plant can also be removed manually through a method called herding. Herding is when boats are used to push hyacinth towards a boat ramp or a conveyor belt. Plants are then taken to proper disposal sites. Another method is mechanical harvesting.

What is being done this year?
California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways will conduct herbicide treatments to control water hyacinth in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Region from March through November 2015. Treatment is based on infestation levels and public calls.  Mechanical harvesting will be conducted on an as-needed basis.

Why is the hyacinth so challenging to control?
This extremely prolific aquatic invasive plant can double in size every ten days in hot weather and can quickly become a dense floating mat of vegetation up to six feet thick.

Sites with dead ends tend to hold water hyacinth in the area longer due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • No river flow except tidal movements.
  • West southwest winds, which prevail during spring, summer and fall seasons.
  • Being close to big nursery areas.

Water hyacinth is an aquatic weed that is reactive to changing weather conditions.  While it thrives in warm and dry weather, it can move and travel within waterways in rainy and windy conditions, and die off in hard freezes. Rain and wind can impact treatment, so harvesting will be conducted in infested areas if weather conditions are favorable.

Why can’t we get rid of water hyacinth?
There is no known eradication method known in the world for water hyacinth in moving water.

How can people identify the different aquatic weeds in the Delta that DBW treats, including Water Hyacinth?
DBW is permitted to treat the following aquatic weeds:  Water Hyacinth, Spongeplant, Egeria densa and Curly-Leaf Pondweed.  For more information on the different characteristics of these weeds, and how members of the public can identify them, please see our Fact Sheet:  http://dbw.parks.ca.gov/PDF/FactSheets/Fact_Sheet_1_Controlled_Species.pdf

How can people report water hyacinth?
If you sight water hyacinth, please call the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) at (888) 326-2822 or send an e-mail to ais@parks.ca.gov. Include in your message the address or nearest landmark of the sighting. If possible, take photographs of the plant.

For more information, visit www.dbw.parks.ca.gov.

Aquatic Invasive Species Resource Information

California State Parks, Division of Boating & Waterways

Division of Boating & Waterways, Aquatic Invasive Species Program:

USDA - Agricultural Research Service

State Water Resources Control Board

Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries West Coast

Boat Cleaning Procedures:

You can prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species using this checklist every time you exit a body of water:

  • Inspect all watercraft and equipment
  • Clean any visible mud, plants, fish or animals from watercraft and equipment
  • Drain all water, including from lower outboard unit, ballast, live-well, buckets, etc.
  • Dry all areas
  • Dispose of debris and live bait in trash