A promising District pilot project begins in DeBary Bayou

Aug. 27, 2020

A District contractor uses an amphibious long-reach excavator to harvest nuisance plants
A District contractor uses an amphibious long-reach excavator to harvest nuisance plants at DeBary Bayou (left). District staff collect samples from an airboat (right).

A pilot project to remove nuisance and exotic vegetation from DeBary Bayou in Volusia County is now underway, another example of how the St. Johns River Water Management District puts our core missions of water quality and natural systems to work.

This mechanical harvesting pilot project aims to not only remove problematic vegetation but remove excess nutrients from the waterway, too. The results may help expand the District’s vegetation management toolbox and could reduce the use of aquatic herbicides.

The project will enhance the health of the DeBary Bayou (also known as Gemini Springs Run) and surrounding wetlands by removing nutrients that can cause algal blooms and increasing water exchange between the marsh and the bayou. The water flows from Gemini Springs and Mullet Lake to Lake Monroe in the middle basin of the St. Johns River.

Preparation work for the project began in June, with District staff stabilizing the access road to a loading site. In early August, the contractor began harvesting the plants with an amphibious long-reach excavator. The harvested nuisance vegetation will be hauled away on barges to a temporary site near the Spring-to-Spring Trail, then trucked off-site to the west for disposal.

As our work continues, visitors to the area may observe increased personnel and equipment at the Gemini Springs west trailhead project site. In addition to the harvesting, District staff are also taking samples of the vegetation so a University of Florida lab can quantify the amount of nutrients being removed from the system along with the plants.

We’re always excited when these types of promising projects get underway, carrying the potential to help improve water quality in the waterways that so many of us love and enjoy. We’re grateful for the support of the Gemini Springs Alliance and members of the community as well as the dedication of our scientists and staff. We will keep you posted on our progress!

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