April 3, 2013
Helicopters will be used to investigate two major Gippsland waterways this month as the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) seeks to determine whether the fast-growing, noxious water weed salvinia molesta has spread. Salvinia is declared a State Prohibited Weed, the highest category of noxious weed under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994. It poses a significant threat to agriculture and the environment and the Victorian Government treats outbreaks at no cost to landholders. As part of the eradication program, surveillance work will be carried out along the Thomson and Latrobe rivers to determine whether the plant has spread beyond an infestation found on private property near Heyfield in May 2010. Project leader Kim Gowers said the operation would begin soon and was a follow up to previous surveys carried out since the infestation was reported. “The flights will be at approximately 1000 feet and will cover the Thomson and Latrobe river systems,” Ms Gowers said. “Following the discovery of the infestation near Heyfield in 2010, DPI worked with landowners and local water authorities to eradicate the infestation. “Aerial surveillance is part of DPI’s ongoing monitoring program to ensure the eradication works were successful.” Salvinia is a free-floating water weed with hairy green leaves and no flowers. It can multiply quickly in the right conditions and can completely cover water surfaces. Salvinia can block entire waterways and reduce water quality and oxygen levels which results in the death of fish and other aquatic fauna. Infestations can also increase the rate of water loss because the plant uses water faster than the normal rate of evaporation.