By URIEL C. QUILINGUING
Contributing Editor .
ALLOWING them to grow and float, water hyacinths could slow down, if not totally block, the flow of river current and cause flooding during rainy season.
With this in mind, City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) personnel and volunteers from Safer River Life Saver Foundation Inc. (SRLSFI) and four riverside barangays, extracted on Tuesday some 30 cubic meters of water hyacinths from Cagayan de Oro river.
Clenro chief Armen Cuenca said the removal of water hyacinths was part of a river clean-up activity which Clenro Eco-Brigade conducted that day.
Cuenca said volunteers from SRLSFI of Liceo de Cagayan University and barangays Consolacion, 10, 13, and 17 helped them in the manual “harvesting” of the “world’s worst aquatic weed.”
He said the eco-brigade had wanted to clear the river of some 200 cubic meters of water hyacinths, but had to set another day since they simply cannot do it.
This was so because full-grown water hyacinths—expanded leaf stalks (petioles) and roots (rhizoids)—could reach up to two-meters above the water and another meter below and removing them with bare hands was physically exacting.
“We will resume on April 4 (Tuesday) from 6 am to 4 pm with a backhoe and about a hundred volunteers,” he said.
Cuenca said the City Agriculture Office will utilize the collected water hyacinths as cattle feeds.
Clenro’s extraction of highly-invasive and prolific water hyacinths that are found from Ysalina bridge upstream to Marcos bridges downstream was in response to a request from SRLSFI.
“We have been extracting water lilies (water hyacinths) everyday for almost two years now. They are still there because they grow and propagate so fast, hence we need help,” SRLSFI executive director Dr. Rosalina Huerbana said.
Huerbana, who spearheaded the organization of Liceo de Cagayan University’s SRLSFI 10 years ago, said the extraction activity must be sustained since water hyacinths may eventually cover the entire river bank.
“Our volunteers extract them every day, dry them for two to three days, and request the city’s garbage truck to haul them,” she said.
She said the SRLSFI has been involved in the information, education and communication campaign for the protection of Cagayan river, the planting of lambago saplings and giant bamboos, and tilapia dispersals in the upstream until the threat of water hyacinths came about two years ago.
“These weeds grow even faster during dry months, hence this is the right time to exterminate them,” Huerbana said.
It may be recalled the devastating perennial flooding since 2011 in Central Mindanao, particularly Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City, was due to water hyacinths that covered several hectares of Liguasan marsh and along Rio Grande de Mindanao.