Savannah River to be lowered 3 feet for June 19 herbicide spraying

The Savannah River will be lowered about three feet later this month to accommodate contractors who will apply herbicide to control aquatic weeds on June 19.

The project, costing about $6,500, involves treatment of about 15 acres of invasive weeds in the river channel along downtown Augusta, said Wayne Hawkins, the chairman of the Augusta Port Authority.

The Army Corps of Engineers will gradually lower the river beginning two days before the spraying and will restore the levels in the two days after. The lower water makes the treatments more effective.

This year’s herbicide applications cost less than half the $15,000 invested in 2011, which was successful enough to reduce the area requiring treatment from 35 acres to about 15 acres.

Residents who use river water for irrigation are advised not to water plants or lawns June 19-21 to allow the chemical to dissipate. There are no advisories related to swimming, fishing or other recreation.

The weeds in the river include invasive exotic species such as Brazilian elodea, which tends to overtake shallow areas. Although it is impossible to eradicate the weeds, the authority hopes to continue annual treatments to keep them under control.

The low bidder for this year’s project was Southern Aquatic Services of Statesboro, Ga., which also won last year’s contract.

Other bidders this year were Aqua Services, of Alabama; Estate Management Services, of Beaufort, S.C.; and Nutra-Chem, of Lexington S.C.

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