Reportedly, water hyacinths were introduced into the waters of the St. Johns River and the Ocklawaha River as early as the 1880s. The history of the growth of invasive aquatic plants has paralleled the growth in the use of steamboats in these waters. By the turn of the century, the invasion of these plants interfered with steamboat traffic. Dense hyacinth growth interfered with docking at Palatka and dense mats of plant growth pushed flat bottomed steamers off course in Lake George.
In 1899, Congress authorized the Corps of Engineers to eliminate plant obstructions in the navigable waters of the southeastern United States. While the railroad replaced the steamboat as the primary mode of travel in Florida by the 1920’s, the growth of invasive plant species continued to choke off navigable waters throughout Florida, reduced biodiversity, deprived the waters of oxygen, killed off fish and other aquatic life, and disrupted ecosystems dependent on the growth of the smallest living animals for food.
Methods of removing water hyacinths and other invasive plant species included a wide variety of mechanical means like large cutters and choppers and long draglines to pull large mats of plants from the surface of navigable waters. Courtesy, IFAS, University of Florida.
When a hurricane roars inland, most low-lying coastal states rely on a network of pumps and canals to dissipate the storm surge and protect both lives and property. But add invasive plants and weeds to the mix, and you have a recipe for a disaster. Overgrown vegetation can wreak havoc and promote
flooding by jamming pumps and blocking water flow.
According to the Weed Science Society of America, common culprits include floating water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), submersed hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) and other fast-growing water plants.
The problem is especially pervasive in Florida, where public lakes are connected by creeks, rivers or constructed canals that ultimately lead to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the largest pumps in the world are used to manage storm runoff and keep the surrounding areas from flooding.
“Invasive plants tend to coalesce at flood control structures in lakes and canals and at bends in river channels,” says Jeffrey Schardt, environmental administrator for invasive plant management with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “If left unmanaged, they can clog pumps, impede water flow and make flooding much, much worse. It’s imperative to have the overgrowth under control before a hurricane barrels inland.”
Schardt says problems associated with invasive plants like water hyacinth and water lettuce reached crisis proportions along Florida’s waterways during the 1960s. But officials learned from that experience and have adopted routine maintenance controls to help prevent a recurrence.
“We’ve found a single patch of water hyacinth can double in size in as little as two weeks during the growing season – forming large rafts that can be carried by wind and water currents, clog pumps and cause flooding,” Schardt says. “Time is not our friend, so we concentrate on frequent, small-scale control operations to prevent large-scale problems from developing.”
Florida law imposes strict penalties for “introducing” invasive plants in Florida water courses. Merely possessing these potentially destructive plants may lead to the imposition of fines or imprisonment or both.
Since we face heavy traffic every day, the waterways could be integrated with the existing road transport network. This system would greatly benefit the tourists and the locals. The various phases of the project are: 1. Documentation of existing river transport facilities. 2. Proposal for an overall inland waterway network. Suggesting new routes to add […]
Author’s Note: This is a creative enterprise system that integrates an inland waterways system with other transport systems in solving the dilemma of fast-growing populations in the Third World. But is this practical, useful and low cost over enough years to justify the upfront costs. Especially, when engineering fees and other soft costs grow at exponential rates. Generally unaccounted for in government projects, professionals may be required to provide professional errors and omissions policies. How large will the premiums on such policies be to cover the unknown risks and damages of new, untested systems that may be faulty or defective in the public sector?
The longest canal in France is the Canal du Midi. Here at Languedoc. Note the three canal boats on the left bank. All three are lined up with their bows pointing in the same direction. In the distance, an arch bridge for vehicles of all types. The sidewalk on the right could have been a towpath in the past when horses drew narrowboats or packet boat along canals all over the French country side.
This wrought iron pedestrian bridge in London is one of the highest foot bridges with the steepest slope over what looks to be a waterway used for canal boating.
In the distance, one can see a canal lock that appears to be in use. The bank on the right is heavily wooded and is probably a park. Considering the arc of the bridge, larger vessels than simple horse- drawn narrow-boats were in use on this watercourse when this bridge was designed for pedestrians.
Designed by acclaimed British bridge designer Thomas Telford, this metal transport aqueduct is 304 meters long and was completed in 1806. Before Telford began designing transport aqueducts in iron, aqueducts were constructed for centuries in brick and mortar. Brick construction, however, was not impervious to water leakage even though similar construction methods were used as far back as the Romans in building aqueducts for carrying water exclusively.
Today, this transport aqueduct is distinguished as a World Heritage site and known as Pontcysylite Aqueduct in Wales. Three hundred and four meters long, the aqueduct carries passengers in narrow boats over the Llangellen Canal over the River Dee Valley.
In the late 1790’s and early 1800’s, both the French and the British led the world in engineering. In the early 1800’s, President Thomas Jefferson established the United States Military Academy at West Point, the first engineering school in the nation. The choice was difficult but the Academy decided to follow the French methods in bridge and inland waterway construction. Accordingly, all of the early textbooks for the cadets were written in French!
Unquestionably the ‘Father’ of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, in 1907 Congressman J. Hampton Moore sponsored a bill to direct the Corps of Engineers to survey the Delaware River in his district for much needed deepening.
Bills dealing with such questions were referred to as Rivers and Harbors bills and were passed, generally, every few years instead of every year. These bills dealt with the rivers and harbors in a piece-meal fashion pitting one state or congressional district against another. Moore’s bill went down in flames, competing with bills from other states and districts with stronger congressional representation. In his first term in Congress, Moore could not understand why his bill, which sought only a survey for deepening, went down in defeat.
Moore devised a plan to stop governmental bureaucracy from pitting one state against another when a continuous inland waterway from Maine to Florida was needed. Moore called a meeting in Philadelphia in 1907 to form the Atlantic Deeper Waterways Association. Every Governor, Senator, House member, and interested Mayor from Maine to Florida was invited. It would be an ‘all for one’, and ‘one for all’ proposition calling upon Congress to appropriate $50 million a year for ten years.
Attendees would elect Moore president of the the ADWA for forty straight years until the job was done. A continuous protected inland waterway under federal control from Florida to Norfolk, Va., would not be completed until 1935, along with the Cape Cod Canal and other Atlantic coast inland waterways although not necessarily continuously protected by sufficiently large barrier islands, as in Florida.
Moore’s job had been accomplished. The ‘all for one’ plan worked. For much of the distance the inland waterway was at least 125 feet wide and at least 10 feet deep. Joined in the work was John Humphrey Small, a Member of Congress and for a time Chairman of the Rivers and Harbors Committee. More important, while Moore was a Philadelphia Republican, Small was a North Carolina Democrat. For years, the two formed an unbeatable combination in Congress on the question of an Intracoastal Waterway.