We might not give a second thought to the sight of weeds along a waterway, however, chances are, those plants are affecting our lives in some way. While it’s commonly known that weeds have a significant impact on the environment, weeds can also impact on the money in your pocket, your work environment, your health and your lifestyle.
Weeds are estimated to cost the Australian Economy $4 billion per annum. Aquatic weeds contribute to this by affecting water quality and irrigation water. An additional $4 billion per annum is spent on weed management due to the negative impacts on nature conservation, tourism and landscape amenity.
Growth of aquatic weeds can provide excellent breeding conditions for mosquitoes and diseases, such as malaria and Ross River fever, can impact on both human health and the economy. Infestations in drinking water reservoirs can have a significant impact on drinking water quality and increase the costs of water treatment.
Aquatic weeds can also impact on our recreational lifestyle by preventing boating and water sports and increase clogging of waterways. The environmental effects on fish species can also significantly reduce the value of fishing spots.
Preventing the spread of weeds may seem difficult, but here are a few tips:
- Start at the source – seed dispersal is aided by the river, many weeds are transported along waterways from infestations upstream so begin removal upstream;
- Plant and encourage native plants in your garden;
- Plant trees along the river bank to reduce the availability of light to weeds;
- Wash down boats after being in the river; and
- Minimise nutrient loads and disturbance to waterways.
So the next time you are thinking of adding a non-native plant to the garden, think twice. The people who introduced the cane toad thought they were doing the right thing too.