Treatments to kill weeds call for lowering Savannah

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A Statesboro, Ga., contractor was hired Thursday for a $15,000 project to kill aquatic weeds in the Savannah River.

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Athletes powered through the 1.2-mile swim, the first stage of the ESI Ironman 70.3 event in 2009. Augusta Port Authority has hired a Statesboro, Ga., contractor to spray herbicide into the river.  John Curry/File
John Curry/File
Athletes powered through the 1.2-mile swim, the first stage of the ESI Ironman 70.3 event in 2009. Augusta Port Authority has hired a Statesboro, Ga., contractor to spray herbicide into the river.

The company, Southern Aquatic Services LLC, will spray herbicides during the next few weeks, said Wayne Hawkins, the chairman of Augusta Port Authority, which awarded the contract.

"We have to get a lot of things coordinated before it can start," he said, adding that the Army Corps of Engineers and other entities must develop a plan to lower the river a few feet to expose the weeds.

The weeds, including a species called elodea commonly used in tropical fish tanks, have expanded rapidly in recent years and have become an impediment to navigation.

The heaviest infestations cover about 33 acres, which will be chemically treated, Hawkins said. The herbicides to be used are federally approved for such projects.

After a date for the spraying has been decided, the authority will issue a public notice and will instruct residents who pump water from the river for irrigation not to do so during the herbicide applications.

Two other companies -- NaturChem, of Lexington, S.C., and Estate Mansgement Services, of Brunswick, Ga. -- also submitted proposals for the project.

In other business, the authority decided to impose a 50-cent per ticket surcharge for river events such as the Augusta Southern Nationals and ESI Ironman 70.3 to help offset the port authority's costs associated with those events.

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