We did it! After months of fundraising, grant writing, and membership drives, SDRA accumulated enough capital to purchase a Suction Harvester. Our Lake Management Committee did significant research and made recommendations to the SDRA Board. Together, we considered types of equipment, the level of our treasury, the costs associated with the expenditure, and the possible benefits. Ultimately, SDRA made the decision to go ahead and purchase a Suction Harvester from Aquacleaner.
A Suction Harvester is designed to suck up any type of solids that will pass through a hose. By manipulating a hose- — which takes a lot of practice and grace — a diver extracts unwanted plants and solids right from the rooting system, so they don’t grow back as fast. The machine is equipped with filtration that allows the water to pass through it, while capturing plants, rocks, sticks, leaves and assorted debris. This machine is an environmentally friendly means of dealing with an overwhelming problem.
Aquatic vegetation grows and dies each year, sending the skeleton of the plant to the lake’s bottom. There, the plants decompose and fragment. That increases the density of the plants in following seasons and adds to the buildup of organic sediment. Suction Harvesting slows this process down and, over repeated use, may halt the cycle. In contrast with chemical treatments or weed cutters, a Suction Harvester has the advantage of selectivity. If we want only the milfoil removed but want the lily pads to remain untouched, we can do so.
There are several criteria that must be assessed to determine the rate of progress (ROP) that we can achieve using the Aquacleaner Suction Harvester. These include:
- Type of plant: A plant’s rooting system dictates how fast we can remove this year’s plant. We’ll attempt to get both this year’s and last year’s plants out.
- The type of bottom – Soft, silted in bottoms like those in Smith & Sayles Reservoir make plant removal and its rooting system easier to extract than if we had hard bottoms like clay or sand. Those require more suction to get to the rooting system of the plant.
- The density of the plant: This means that we have to consider how many plants are in a given box as well as how tall they are. More Biomass requires more time to go through a given area.
- The Depth of the water: Deeper water slows the rate of progress due to the logistics of moving around while under water and the size of the plants involved.
- Other: Sometimes there is debris in the area that needs to be cleaned. Leaves, sticks, rocks, and larger items must be removed as part of a shoreline remediation and to maximize use of the lake.
If you’d like to use the Suction Harvester around your property, you must meet several criteria: 1) You must be a SDRA member in good standing. 2) You must be fully trained to use the Suction Harvester. 3) You must sign a liability waiver. Trainings are available for interested SDRA members. Please contact Rico Colaluca at 401-568-4267 to set up trainings.