Council weeding out invasive plants in the Ross River

Date published: 1 April 2021

Townsville City Council is taking action to weed out invasive plant life in the Ross River following the recent wet season.

Council’s 6.5-tonne floating weed harvester has been busy working to combat invasive species including Salvinia, Water Hyacinth, Cabomba and Sagittaria, species native to South and North America.

Deputy Mayor Mark Molachino said the weed harvester was a crucial piece of machinery in managing the Ross River.

“Our weed harvester is deployed 5 days a week on a rotating 3-month roster between Black and Aplins weirs,” Cr Molachino said.

“The introduced weeds cover or sit under the surface of the water and, as we’ve seen in the past, have the ability to take over our waterways.

“Due to the recent wet season, we’ve seen a spike in the growth of the weeds from water runoff introducing fresh nutrients into the river.

“The spreading of these weeds not only make it difficult for our community to enjoy recreational activities, such as fishing, swimming or rowing, but they can strangle river systems with slow-moving water, decrease oxygen production and kill fish and native aquatic plants.

“Council recently contracted a second weed harvester to work alongside Council’s harvester in the lead up to the annual rowing season.”

Council’s weed harvesting operation works hand in hand restoring the banks of the Ross River, with the weed matter turned into nutrient rich mulch. Crews also manage and conduct integral spray programs of invasive terrestrial weeds in conjunction with the harvesting operation.

“The harvester not only cuts the weed, but it carries the plant matter back to the banks where our crew spray it with microbes, turning it into a dense soil that helps restore the riverbank,” Cr Molachino said.

“Our warmer tropical climate provides the perfect condition for these weeds to thrive, making it a difficult issue to manage, but our hard-working Council crew continue to work around the clock to keep these invasive weeds to a minimum.”

Local councillor Suzy Batkovic said the Ross River not only provides a home for native plants and animals but is a much-loved part of our city’s natural environment.

“Council is dedicated to maintaining our natural ecosystems, and our weed harvester is vital in doing just that, clearing the river of not just weed but discarded rubbish and plastic too,” Cr Batkovic said.

“We know just how much our community enjoy the beautiful Ross River, so it’s fantastic to be able to put our harvester to good use year-round.

“Residents can also play a role in keeping pests out of the river by not introducing any fish or plant-life into our waterways, and by not spreading these invasive species by taking them home.”