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After a recent rescue operation in which NSRI volunteers took four hours to safely extricate recreational boaters from water hyacinth, the NSRI is urgently requesting boaters to refrain from attempting to navigate through the water hyacinth mats, which currently extend over roughly 30% of Hartbeespoort dam.

The water hyacinth causes a substantial danger to small craft users at Hartbeespoort dam and should never be entered by any craft.

“The water hyacinth mats float on the dam surface and are wind-driven,” said NSRI Hartbeespoort Station Commander Arthur Crewe.

“We are finding that after launching their boats, some recreational boaters find that the water hyacinth mats are blown between them and their launching site. They then try to return to the same launch site by navigating through the water hyacinth.”

“The boaters must not enter the water hyacinth mats while trying to get back to their launch site, but rather motor to a different launch site where the water hyacinth does not block their course. They should then call friends or family to fetch them and their craft by car rather than risk entering the water hyacinth to try and get back to their launch site.”

“If boaters do try to navigate through the water hyacinth, our experience is that they become trapped as the hyacinth entangles their propeller. We have also responded to several boaters who have damaged their propellers after hitting submerged objects that could not be seen under the water hyacinth mats,” said Arthur.

As summer progresses, the water hyacinth will grow, covering a larger area and making this problem more severe.

Hartbeespoort dam water hyacinth

“Under no circumstances should boaters try to navigate through the water hyacinth. By doing this, they are putting their lives at risk. Rescuing people in boats entrapped by water hyacinth is an extremely complex operation and will not be necessary if people do not enter the water hyacinth mats,” said Arthur.

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