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State lawmaker from Shreveport wants a new way to kill aquatic weeds

Giant Salvinia.jpg

Louisiana Rep. Patrick Williams (D-Shreveport) is trying to draw attention to the invasive aquatic weed giant salvinia that continues to clog many waterways in the state. He invited the inventor of the "WaterMower" to address the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment during a May 8 hearing. Williams said his constituents want to see results that go beyond chemical sprays and weed eating weevils raised in university research labs.

“They don’t care that you’re building a new weevil or something that you’re experimenting with. They want it gone immediately," Williams said. "This is one mechanism to achieve that goal. So why not utilize it?"

John Bourque of Elm Grove, La., rigged up a vacuum-like machine. It grinds up the giant salvinia leaves into a pulp and spits it back into the lake. Bourque said LSU researchers have confirmed that the mulched salvinia is dead and doesn’t grow back. He has a patent on his device that he invented five years ago after feeling defeated by the problem at his Lake Bistineau fishing camp.

“I’m going to present [lawmakers] the pictures, and I’m going to show them the video we took, and show them after we were finished we got them some clean water," Bourque said.

Bourque wants the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to hire him on a contract basis to run his WaterMower. He says wildlife biologists got a demonstration two weeks ago and confirmed he can kill 43 tons in five hours. It’s the second time he’s pitched his device to Louisiana lawmakers in the past three years.