Lady Bird Lake businesses work to remove water weed


by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and photojournalist DATHAN HULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheltonG_KVUE

Posted on September 10, 2013 at 10:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 10 at 10:40 PM

AUSTIN -- If  you’ve passed over Lady Bird Lake this week you may have noticed less of the floating gunk in the water. That funk, an indigenous weed called Fanwort, or Cabomba.

That’s because three Austin businesses, Lonestar River Boats, Capital Cruises, and Austin Water Bikes have pooled their resources to hire a contractor to remove the water weed from their spots.

One of the businesses, Austin Water Bikes, has been out of commission for the past several weeks because the weed has made riding in the water impossible.

The lake businesses hired Moss Monster, two brothers working together, to remove the Fanwort from underwater and on top.

“There are sickle-teeth on the machine and they're cutting the plant under the water and then the forward momentum of the paddle wheels is bringing that  forward on the conveyor dropping it underneath us,” said Clifton Chowning, one of the Moss Monster owners.

“Whenever you get a lake, any water body that gets about 40 percent coverage, you lose control of that water body, and I think that this is just keeping a good balance,” Chowning added.

Watershed protection experts have told KVUE that while the Fanwort is native to Texas, it’s been accumulating more in Lady Bird Lake this summer, because it thrives in heat and there is less water being sent downstream to rice farmers.

The lake business owners had to get special permission from the Austin Parks and Recreation Department before contracting out with Moss Monster.

The machine began removing Fanwort on Monday and was expected to work through Wednesday.