Deceptively beautiful, the water hyacinths have already began their annual terrorization of the waters of Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek, forcing city public sanitation teams to scramble to remove them.
According to the water management department of the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Administrative Bureau, more than 28,000 tons of water hyacinth has so far been taken out of the water. Last year, the city cleaned out 166,600 tons of water hyacinth.
The Jinshan and Qingpu districts have it the worst, with about 41,000 tons needing to be removed in the past month.
Although the plant had not yet hit scenic areas of the river, “consequences would be serious without immediate action,” says Shanghai Daily.
The delicate-seeming water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes–popular as an aquarium plant and as ornamental pond-decoration–is regarded as a “bio-disaster” to many countries, including China.
Mainly, it’s troublesome because it pollutes the water if it dies and sinks to the bottom; yet if it’s piled up on land willy nilly, it will also cause environmental degradation when the plants decay and when the runoff finds its way into the local water courses. If not controlled, the water hyacinth will cover lakes and ponds entirely; impacting water flow and choking sunlight and oxygen from reaching other aquatic plants.
Not only that, the water hyacinth has also been implicated in human health because its density creates ideal conditions for mosquitoes and flies, making this fatal flower an agent of disease as well. According to very legitimate sources, even public security appears to be affected because it is claimed that dense and high water hyacinth plants provide a nice place for criminals to hide.”
Shanghai is not alone in bearing arms against the water hyacinths; greater China and Asia, North America, Australia, and Africa also shoulder its burden.
Who knew that a free-floating perennial aquatic plant could be so dangerous?