Giant salvinia found in Longview's main water source

CEDAR SPRINGS, TX (KTRE) - A destructive aquatic weed has been found on yet another East Texas lake. Parks & Wildlife workers found giant salvinia in a cove on Lake O' The Pines, near the Cedar Springs Boat Landing. That lake is the main water source for the city of Longview.

"It's a non-native invasive plant and it can cause a lot of problems, access for anglers, creates oxygen problems in a water body," said Michael Bryce, a Texas Parks & Wildlife biologist.

Teams began scouring the lake to find out how much the weed spread.

"Here's what we're looking for, giant salvinia. If left unchecked, and under prime growing conditions, it can strangle the life out of a body of water."

"Over time it will kill a body of water. The best thing to do is have a quick response, and contain it," said Lee Thomas, with the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District.

It can double its size in just 2 to 4 days. It forms huge mats that block sunlight and deplete oxygen, creating dead zones.

"If you have an acre of it today, in 4 days you could have 2 acres."

Even a fragment can create a monster. Biologists believe a boater accidentally brought the plant to the lake on a boat and trailer.

"If we don't pick up every plant those plants they can multiply in a weeks time we could have double the area we have now. 9 times out of 10 its transported probably transported by a trailer or boat," said Bryce.

They sprayed herbicide over the area, and booms were set to contain any remnants - and they hope they got it all.

It's a class B misdemeanor to transport giant salvinia to waterways, punishable by jail and a fine. Parks & Wildlife workers believe they made the discovery in the nick of time to keep it from spreading even more.