Systems is delighted to have won the World Bank Tender to chop 1500 hectares of
water hyacinth in a 12 month period, using specialty equipment that we
manufacture. This equipment has been proven to be effective under varied
Aquarius Systems will
be working under the direction of the Lake Victoria Environmental Management
Project, (LVEMP). Target areas include
the Port of Kisumu, Kendu Bay, Homa Bay, Port Victoria and Nya Koch Bay.
These areas will be addressed on an "as needed" basis, to be
determined by the LVEMP project manager.
This project is being
financed by a grant from the Global Environmental Facility through the
International Bank for Reconstruction & Development, and a Credit from the
International Development Association.
In response to the
Tender specifications, our initial offer was to use three specially designed
chopping machines called "Swamp Devils" to shred 1500 hectares of
water hyacinth in twelve months. During subsequent visits to the lake and
after a meeting with local residents, we decided to voluntarily substitute one
aquatic plant harvester and one shore based unloading conveyor for one of the
Swamp Devils. Now two Swamp Devils will be destroying the vegetation and
one harvester will be collecting and removing a portion of the chopped debris.
The Swamp Devil is a
heavy duty aquatic vegetation cutter that features two blades at the front which
measure 2.4 meters across. It has a 234 horsepower engine and can easily
shred trees up to 15 cm in diameter.
harvester has the ability to carry four tons of vegetation on board in a single
load. Depending on the weight and volume of the vegetation and the
distance to the shore, the harvester can potentially remove 16 to 32 loads of
chopped hyacinths in eight hours. We intend to surround our work area with
floating booms and use a GPS device to ascertain the acreage to be chopped each
day. This will make it easier for the harvester to drive around inside the
boomed area to collect and remove chopped hyacinths.
Water hyacinth is made
up of about 95 percent water and only 5 percent solids. While the
harvester will be used to remove much of the chopped hyacinth, a small amount
will sink before it can be collected. The plant matter left behind in the
lake will slowly decompose, thus slowly releasing and recycling nutrients back
into the water. These nutrients were originally drawn from the water.
Lake Victoria is large enough and deep enough to quietly
absorb the minor nutrient recycling that this project will engender. No
toxic substances are being introduced into the lake, and no new nutrients are
being added to the water.
This is a very
progressive project and Kenyans should be proud of the foresight that has gone
into this operation. In the recent past, the universal answer has almost
always been to treat water hyacinths with herbicides, which was viewed as an
instant solution. However, the introduction of chemicals into Lake
Victoria is unacceptable to the LVEMP and others concerned about the
environmental health of the lake.
The mechanical method
of weed management allows the user selective control; the equipment works only
where you direct it to work. Some immediate benefits will be providing
fishing boats and ferries access to open water. Other benefits include
reduced vegetation growth and nutrient removal.
The LVEMP is hoping to
experiment with developing a by-product for the chopped plants that are removed
from the lake. We suggest that the simplest and most cost effective
solution in this case will be to compost the weeds for fertilizer.
consideration in the management of Lake Victoria is to understand that it took
many years for the lake to get into the poor shape it is in, and it's going to
take time to reclaim it. The water hyacinth infestation is a devastating
symptom of the serious water quality problems of Lake Victoria.
project is the beginning of a solution. There is no instant fix, no magic
pill, bug, chemical, machine, or technology that is going to make the problem go
away quickly. The focused and multi-faceted approach currently underway is
the proper way to proceed with the lake restoration. This chopping and
removal program is a useful and productive technique in the Lake Manager's
toolbox. It is an exciting opportunity to locally test and measure the
mechanical approach to hyacinth control on a large scale, in order to aid in
future planning for the management of Lake Victoria.
The forward thinking of
the LVEMP has been noticed and admired by others around the world who are
anxiously following the Lake Victoria story. This website will feature
periodic updates and progress reports as the project moves forward.
Aquarius Systems truly
appreciates the assistance and cooperation of all those involved to enable us to
do the job we have come to do, and look forward to completing a successful,
beneficial and environmentally sound project.