SAN ANTONIO – City crews will be back as early as Wednesday to continue what they did last year along the Elmendorf Lake Park — clearing away highly invasive water hyacinth and the garbage caught in vegetation that remain north of Commerce Street.
“TCI was asked by Parks and Recreation to assist with hauling away the water hyacinth vegetation that was removed from Elmendorf Lake. We continue to assist with the hauling away as the vegetation removal process continues by Parks and Recreation. TCI is responsible for the removal of any debris in the channel area near 26th street. We will have a crew go out to the area tomorrow to clean up the debris and assess why it continues to take place,” said Paul Berry, spokesman for San Antonio Transportation and Capital Improvements.
(Floating debris, dead plants clog the waterway where Zarzamora Creek feeds into Elmendorf Lake. Photo: Bill Caldera)
TCI assisted in the initial effort by hauling away the plants that were pulled out of the water.
Although some heavy machinery was used to collect and dispose of the plants, Connie Swann, spokeswoman for SA Parks and Recreation, said removal of the aggressive, invasive species is “an ongoing manual process that takes time."
Swannn said the removal that began July 18 was paused for one month during the holidays to address the habitation modification project to discourage egrets and other birds from nesting on what was known as Bird Island.
Joe Pena, who lives in the area and is an avid cyclist on the city’s network of trails, said he first noticed the growth in the channel north of Commerce Street.
“It just kept going and going and going," he said.
Pena said he’s relieved to know the city finally responded to his concerns and others that were also expressed in an article in the campus newspaper of Our Lady of the Lake University.
OLLU’s campus overlooks Elmendorf Lake.
Pena said the city needs to finish the job north of Commerce Street, which looks almost as bad as it smells of rotting plants in nearly stagnant water. He also said he hopes the city stays on top of the situation because it takes away from the long-awaited multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded improvement project at Elmendorf Lake Park.
“They let it get like this again, we’ll be right back at square one,” he said.
Pena said neighbors welcomed the walking trails that extend along the creek that feeds into the lake, but not now.
“You can’t bring your kids out here,” he said.
Mike Pena, another neighbor, said, “Hardly anyone wants to come out here anymore because of this mess.”
More information about the invasive plant can be found on the USDA National Invasive Species Information Center website.