Smoke and Mirrors
If you are perceived to be doing good, then can you actually be doing harm instead?
The gates of Lake Bistineau were opened this week and what has now become the annual draw-down has begun. The 1st part of the video shows the salvinia in the Lake as we drive over the dam. The 2nd part of the video shows the water pouring through the gates as they begin the lowering of the lake.
As stated in my previous blog entry of Sept. 7th. Drawing the lake down has very little to do with controlling the growth of salvinia. If those in power truly believed that leaving the salvinia stranded on the dry lake bed has any effect on the plants ability to survive, then these persons would be lowering the lake during the summer when it is hot and dry. Not during the winter when most of the rainfall occurs. But lowering the lake does go to “perception”. The public perceives that the State is doing its best to control the growth.
Does it make sense that the State would spend so much money and man power to introduce the salvinia beetle to the lake and then take a chance of the beetle being destroyed as the salvinia drys up while stranded on the dry lake bed. Of course not, this is all smoke and mirrows. Everyone who has spent any time on this lake knows that the plant goes dormat while lying in the “moist” lake bed and then springs back to life when water becomes available.
Does lowering the lake wash out any of the salvinia from the lake? The answer to that question is a resounding “No”, as evidenced in the video. You will notice that there isn’t one “raft” of salvinia being washed downstream. In fact you will see it stacked up against the flood gate as the water pours out under it. Opening the gates as they are now, insures that the salvinia will remain as the water is removed. Please read my previous entry of Sept. 7th which explains why.
The only way to control the growth of this plant is by “flushing” the lake through a series of controlled flooding. The lake has to be brought above its normal level and then allowed to drain taking the salvinia downstream. Where, by the way, it cannot survive. The raising and lowering has to be a continued program throughout the year. Please refer to my previous entry of Sept. 7 as to the benefits and ease of accomplishing this “controlled flooding”.
I may be proven wrong, we’ll never know because it will never be tried. But the one thing I am sure of is that the continued lowering of the lake will contribute in the lake dying almost as fast as being overtaken by salvinia.
Trapping the salvinia on the lake side of the dam is the wrong approach. Last year the public was told that there was only 800 acres of salvinia left after the drawdown of the lake. This number increased to 14,000 acres by mid July despite of the State’s spraying efforts. I would not even venture a guess of how many acres of salvinia is now present in the lake.
Why would the results be any different this year? The public will be told that the decrease in surface water will make it easier to get to and spray the salvinia that is left in the lake. When in actuality the opposite is the truth. Lowering the lake creates scattered pools of water covered in salvinia that are inaccessible and therefore untreatable. The salvinia that is left on the dry lake bed does not die. When the lake is lowered there are only 2 points of access where you can launch a boat which creates another set of problems. Navigating a tricky (now stump filled) channel is one and the time, manpower and fuel needed to cover the area another.
Simply put, lowering the lake is “smoke and mirrors”. The only way that lowering the lake will have any effect on the salvinia is if the dam were removed, the lake would then be allowed to drain down to its original creeks and bayous. It would need to be down 2 to 3 years before being allowed to fill up again.
Before undertaking this method, be aware, that once removed the dam may never get rebuilt. The State can’t afford the chemicals and equipment required to spray. The State barely could afford the cost required to lower the lake, much less the cost of rebuilding a dam. The lake will be surely lost. But what the heck, it’s just as lost using the present method.