Multiple Reports on the use of

Water Hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes

Elm Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas
May, 2000, No. N499, Limited Edition: 100

Water hyacinth grows in the shallow water along the shore of the Elm Lake in the Brazos Bend State Park located in southeastern Texas. Alligators and water moccasins are also found in this lake. Needless to say, a certain amount of care must be taken to photograph these beautiful wildflowers.

John Dietling has informed my that the plant and duckweed is currently used in Austin, Texas as a wastewater strategy.

During the late October flood in Southeast Texas there was a huge migration of this plant, violet flower, pale violet, multi-blossom. These plants came from Lake Conroe, the San Jacinto River, and Armand bayou. I believe that returning salinity levels have killed them. Discussion about them rendered several interesting ideas. Their mass and level of competition is not good news to smooth cordgrass. The hyacinths cover up young cordgrass, I am told. The detritis is not really necessary to nutrient rich Galveston Bay. I am told that nothing co-evolved with them. I am also told that they started in this country at the World's Fair, in New Orleans as a garden party favor, a bowl from each table. It is also said that a dollar or two is added to water bills in Florida, as hyacinth removal expense. A professor at A & M in Galveston told me that the plant produces long fibers that are useful and are processed into marketable products in China. Also the plant is valuable as a filter in purifying water. I would appreciated any information that Ecolog-List can develop. I continue to be amazed and interested in the very unclear and irrational definitions of trash and nuisance plants

Water Hyacinth
This plant was brought from Indonesia by the Royal family in reign of King Rama V, first for improvement of the river environment. But because of its rapid growth today this beautiful river orchid become important weed in all river of Thailand.

Now there are some methods to bring this weed to dry, stretch and weave. This woven product from Water Hyacinth has unique character and feeling. Especially it is very durable while using and can be kept for long time.

All of our products are woven by hand from local home factory, for original style preservation. And very important these products are good for the environment. Original source: but no longer available.

San Pasqual Aquatic Treatment Facility These are photos taken in Aug 1996, of the San Pasqual Aquatic Treatment Facility, a CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS system using water hyacinth plants. Located in San Diego county, this facility treats 1,200,000 gal daily of secondary sewage waste water. This waste water is recirculated for several days allowing the process to reduce BOD, TSS, NH4, NO3, PO4, and other chemicals to acceptable levels. After treatment by the water hyacinth plants and polishing by reverse osmosis and chemical treatment the water is recycled and used for sprinkler irrigation on three adjacent properties. Water Hyacinth

This CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS process establishes an ecosystem using aquatic plants, water snails, mosquito fish (gambusia), crayfish, and various other micro and macro organisms to remove the nutrients and clean the waste water. The rapidly growing water hyacinth plants are ground to reduce volume and windrow composted to produce a clean, quality compost product useable as a mulch or soil amendment. San Pasqual Aquatic Treatment Facility is operated by the City of San Diego.

The project manager is Paul Gagliardo P.E. and he can be reached at (619)538-8184 - [FILE COULD NOT BE FOUND - Sep 2006]

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is a perennial, freshwater aquatic vasular plant with rounded, upright, shiny green leaves and spikes of lavender flowers. The petioles of the plant are spongy with many air spaces and contribute to the buoyancy of the hyacinth plant. When grown in wastewater, individual plants range from 0.5 to 1.2 m (20 to 47 in.) from the top of the flower to the root tips. The plants spread laterally until the water surface is covered and then the vertical growth increases. Water hyacinths are very productive photosynthetic plants. Their rapid growth is a serious nuisance problem in many slow flowing southern waterways. These same attributes become an advantage when used in a wastewater treatment system. The cultivated water hyacinth plant material from this project has a very limited root system which may be due to high levels of nutrients in the waste water. Plants growing in natural water flows often have roots more than 3ft. long.

Closeup of Water Hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, showing the flowers. In California, Water Hyacinth plants are not known to produce seeds. Water hyacinth reproduces primarily by vegetative propagation. Growth is rapid at 20-30C (68-96F) and nearly stops at 8-15C (46-59F). Suitable areas for growing water hyacinths include the southern portions of California, Arizona, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Growth of water hyacinth is influenced by: 1) efficiency of the plants use of solar energy, 2) nutrient composition of the water, 3) cultural methods, and 4) environmental factors. Plant density can reach 50kg/sq meter (100 lbs/sq ft) wet weight.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 13, 1996

Prepared for: City of San Diego Water Utilities Department
Prepared by: Western Consortium for Public Health in association with EOA, Inc. June 1996


The recovery of water and resources in municipal wastewater, through the application of innovative and alternative aquatic and advanced water treatment processes has been demonstrated successfully at the San Diego Total Resource Recovery (TRR) project.

The Clean Water Grant funded TRR project was initiated in the late 1970's and conducted at the 0.3 Mgal/d pilot scale facility in Mission Valley (Aqua II) and beginning October 1994 at the 1 Mgal/d full-scale demonstration facility in the San Pasqual Valley (Aqua III).

Water Hyacinth ponds with step feed, effluent recirculation and fine bubble aeration consistently produced an advanced secondary treatment effluent quality at design BOD loadings of 225 lb/ac/d. Effective control of mosquitoes was achieved through night-time sprinkler operation and stocking ponds with mosquito fish. Full-scale harvesting, processing, and composting of water hyacinths was accomplished using a minimum of mechanical equipment. The resulting high quality compost met all regulatory requirements and can be used as a soil amendment.

Full-Scale Water Hyacinth Harvesting, Processing and Composting

Water hyacinths were harvested using a truck with a clamshell fitted hydraulic boom and a 40 cubic yard container. The amount harvested varied seasonally according to plant growth rates and the need to maintain adequate open water between the plants for the mosquito fish to access mosquito larvae. During the summer it was necessary to harvest approximately 50 percent of each pond's plant cover every two weeks; in winter about 30 percent of the plant cover once per month. The Aqua III testing successfully demonstrated full-scale water hyacinth harvesting, processing and composting under peak summer conditions (2.5 ponds/d and 300 cubic yd/d harvested). Harvested water hyacinth volume and water content were reduced by a total 96 and 16 percent, respectively, by chopping with a tub grinder and the squeezing the chopped solids with a screw press.

Windrow aerobic composting of the chopped squeezed material provided an additional 63 percent volume reduction for a minimum total volume reduction of 99 percent (reduction ratio of 100:1), Greater reductions are possible if composting is allowed to continue beyond the minimum three week period (one week for processing and two weeks for composting) by maintaining moisture content in the 40-60 percent range. This process yielded a high quality soil amendment that met all regulatory requirements.

The full-scale water hyacinth harvesting, processing, and composting studies showed this to be an effective and reliable means of dewatering and reducing water hyacinth bulk volume by up to 99 percent and producing a valuable soil amendment in the process. ........Last Updated: December 3, 1996

Water hyacinth - Use it!

A crisis or an opportunity?

The "world's worst water weed", or a "golden plant"?

Many species of animals, fishes and plants are threatened with extinction. Therefore, today, conservation is of paramount importance.

It seems, therefore, somewhat ironic that we seek to destroy, sometimes at all costs, a plant that is available in great abundance.

Water hyacinth has caused many problems, and ruined the livelihoods of many people. However, we have a moral imperative to think about how this abundantly available source of biomass could be utilised for the benefit of those same people for whom it has created such havoc.

There are already many examples in many countries of the world of how individuals and communities have used water hyacinth to great advantage. New possibilities are constantly being discovered in the universities of Africa and Asia.

What can we do with water hyacinth?

Water hyacinth can be very helpful in meeting some of the most urgent needs in tropical countries:

Utilisation makes economic and social sense

When thinking about whether water hyacinth utilisation is economically viable, the following factors should be taken into account:

  1. When water hyacinth is removed from the water body, the nutrients and pollutants are also removed. Thus a contribution to improving the water quality is made. If the hyacinth were allowed to rot in the water, even following control by chemical or biological means, a further reduction in oxygen content would take place.
  2. If the water hyacinth is returned to the land, then the nutrients are taken back to the land, even in an improved form.
  3. If villagers have improved crops of bananas or vegetables as a result of using water hyacinth, their standard of living and almost certainly their health will be greatly improved.
  4. Local economic activity will have been stimulated and opportunities for employment created.
  5. Purposeful activity and being able to meet one's basic needs leads to an enhanced sense of well-being.

There are two dangers associated with water hyacinth utilisation that must be taken seriously. For these reasons, some people even say that water hyacinth should never be used.

  1. The danger of seeds being transported to new locations, perhaps quite innocently in the form of silage or mushroom substrates, and a new infestation of water hyacinth appearing. Therefore, never transport water hyacinth that may contain seeds.
  2. If people find water hyacinth to be really very useful, they may well deliberately plant it in a new location, and thus start off a new infestation which gets out of control. Therefore, never plant water hyacinth except in very strictly controlled conditions.

Water hyacinth is like a fever thermometer!

Take an example from the world of medicine. Many doctors have recognised that, if a patient has a fever, the fever is not the problem to be treated, but a very important indicator that the patient has an illness. That complaint needs to be diagnosed and treated.

Where water hyacinth is found in abundance, it is not itself the problem, which is to be eradicated at all costs. Rather, it is a clear sign that something else is out of balance. Often it is a sure sign that the water contains too many nutrients, which may come from soil erosion (from careless agricultural practice), from agricultural chemicals or from domestic or industrial pollution.

Thus, to spend a small fortune trying to eradicate water hyacinth might be to ignore the real problem.

The anamed book: Use Water Hyacinth!

Use Water Hyacinth!

"A Practical Handbook of Uses for Water Hyacinth from Across the World"

by Keith Lindsey and Hans-Martin Hirt

Printed January 2000

A Summary

The book covers the important aspects of the biology of water hyacinth, in particular the structure of the plant and its rate of growth. The many and varied problems caused by water hyacinth are described, particularly with respect to Lake Victoria in East Africa. The various methods of control are evaluated, and details given about the international response to the 'problem'.

In these days of diminishing natural resources, it is boldly proposed that water hyacinth be regarded positively as an abundantly available source of biomass. Seen in this positive light, the excessive growth of water hyacinth is not only to controlled, but can be seen as a resource for the

  • production of food for people and fodder for animals,
  • improvement of soil fertility,
  • production of fuel,
  • production of many useful items, and thereby employment and income.
Sometimes the rampant growth of water hyacinth can be attributed, at least in part, to agricultural chemicals entering the waterways, to the presence of pollutants in the water from towns and industries, and minerals from soil erosion. Prevention of such factors is, therefore, an important part of re-establishing the natural ecology in a given environment.

The following uses are described, and some detailed recipes are given:

  1. For use as fertiliser; compost, mulch and ash. The technique of growing vegetables on a raft of water hyacinth. The use as a substrate for growing mushrooms.
  2. For use as animal feed; as green fodder, hay, silage and leaf protein concentrate. For use as feed for farm animals and fish.
  3. For making rope, and then a range of crafts and furniture.
  4. For use as fuel; burning in the hearth, making briquettes, producing biogas.
  5. For making paper and boards.
  6. For other village scale uses.
  7. For larger scale use - possibilities for industrial manufacture of building boards, greaseproof paper, cardboard, fuel and electricity, carbon black, food, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and fertilisers.
  8. For water purification.
A chapter is devoted to the design and construction of simple equipment, particularly the solar oven which can be used for drying small quantities of water hyacinth.

Utilisation is not a cheap option. In order for utilisation to be a success, investment is still required in

Water Hyacinth Utilisation Links
[Note - many links no longer working]

The Mennonite Central Committee in Bangladesh has initiated several grass-roots projects in Bangladesh in which women have lifted themselves out of poverty through making a wide range of crafts and papers from water hyacinth. Their paper products incorporate beautiful traditional designs, and can be purchased in many fair trade shops in Europe.

Aquarius Systems is an American Company that has designed its own harvesters for water hyacinth and other weeds. The firm was engaged to chop water hyacinth in Winam Gulf which is part of Lake Victoria in Kenya. Their site includes a page on which it displays quality furniture produced by the Water Hyacinth Utilisation Project (WHUP) which is a part of "KICK", a non-government organisation in Kisumu, Kenya. WHUP has created work and income for nearly 200 people. These people work in many interdependent small businesses. Some harvest and dry water hyacinth, whilst others make rope, frames for furniture, the tables and chairs themselves, crafts and paper and paper products such as picture frames.

Earthmakers in Australia produce fertilisers from water hyacinth, and provide a consultancy in the use of water hyacinth as compost and mulch. They claim that badly degraded soils can be revitalised by water hyacinth in a remarkably short space of time. The ability of water hyacinth to stimulate the production of worms is well-documented. Unfortunately this site is still under construction (April 2001).

Makerere University in Uganda has produced some convincing results in its research into the benefits of using water hyacinth compost in agriculture. They have also developed a process for producing good silage from water hyacinth.

Projektwerkstatt in Berlin takes an entrepreneurial approach: The renowned Thai Designer, Khun Tük, created an elegant chair and a two-seater (loveseat), which are manufactured in Thailand. Projektwerkstatt imports and sells them by mail order in Germany. With this idea water hyacinth has been discovered to be an almost free and sustainable economic resource. For more information, click here. These sites are in German.

Many other firms in Europe and North America now import furniture, mainly from Thailand, and sell it as a luxury item. They also have sites on the web.

Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (ZERI) stand for the "100% use of all resources, converting 'waste' into an input for other processes, which will contribute to more jobs, more income and NO pollution." Thus they design processes in which the waste of one stage becomes the raw material for the next. They support Maragret Tagwira in Zimbabwe who runs a project in which AIDS orphans grow mushrooms, which are both nutritious and of medicinal value, on a substrate of water hyacinth. The spent substrate is used to breed worms, which are used as chicken feed, and the residue as compost, or maybe even first to produce biogas.

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) is a grassroots non-profit organisation that links together 'ecovillages' and related projects around the world. GEN promotes and supports models of sustainable living, in order to inspire and encourage more people to develop lifestyles that are nurture people and the future of the planet.

One project that GEN features is the Mudialy Fisherman's Co-operative Society Ltd. in Calcutta, India. They have constructed ponds, in some of which water hyacinth has been planted, which treat about 35 million litres of industrial and domestic sewage each day. The final ponds have been stocked with fish, which provides the fishermen with an income. The water hyacinth is regularly harvested and used for soil improvement.

The Ryan Foundation in India demonstrates to village people how to make plant briquettes from water hyacinth for their cookstoves. The Foundation also demonstrates how such briquettes are also used to provide the fuel to desalinate sea-water, which provides a vital source of drinking water in a very dry land.

Some scientists have great conviction that water hyacinth has the potential to provide protein and vitamin rich food for human consumption in the form of leaf protein concentrate. The leading organisation in the general field of leaf protein concentrate is Leaf for Life.

India and south-east Asia have had water hyacinth now for about a century, and they are the most advanced in researching its uses. Their research includes also industrial scale uses, such as the production from water hyacinth of various chemicals and liquid fuels. Building boards and specialised papers such as greaseproof paper are also made.

Please watch this site for further links to sites which give useful information about water hyacinth utilisation. Please inform us of other useful sites on this theme. Please write to Keith Lindsey.

Water Science & Technology Vol 45 No 1 pp 103-110 © IWA Publishing 2002

The potential for water hyacinth
to improve the quality of Bogota River water in the Muña Reservoir:
comparison with the performance of waste stabilization ponds

E. Giraldo and A. Garzón

Centro de Investigaciones en Ingeniería Ambiental, Departamento de Ingeniería, Civil y Ambiental,
Universidad de los Andes, A.A 4976, Bogotá, Colombia


The potential application of Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) in organic matter degradation, sedimentation, nutrient and heavy metal absorption and sulfur reduction in the Muña Reservoir has been tested in experimental lagoons. The lagoons were operated at hydraulic retention times (HRT) of 6, 9 and 15 days. One lagoon was covered with Water Hyacinth, which is naturally growing in the Muña Reservoir, while another lagoon was operated as a conventional oxidation pond. The Water Hyacinth lagoon had better removal efficiencies for almost all parameters measured: BOD5, total suspended solids, COD, nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metals. The oxidation lagoon was facultative for HRT of 9 and 15 days, and anoxic when operated at 6 days HRT. At HRT of 15 days the water quality in the effluent of the covered lagoon corresponded to 12 mg/l of BOD, 6 mg/l of suspended solids and 0.8 mg/l of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide levels in the Muña reservoir can be substantially reduced at HRT higher than 15 days in both lagoons. The uncovered lagoon had better hydrogen sulfide removal during the day but presents high levels at night. If the hydraulic retention time in the Muña reservoir is increased, the water quality of the Bogota river can be substantially improved for all the HRTs tested in the pilot units. HRT seems to give a better prediction of overall effluent water quality than surface loading. More research is needed in order to define the optimum water hyacinth density in the Muña reservoir to determine its influence on the water quality of the effluent. The influence is expected to be negative due to an internal increase of BOD, solids, nutrients and metals loads due to plant decay.

The Efficiency of Aquatic Plant Systems for Domestic Wastewater Treatment

Name Boonrod Sawatdiphanich

This research was conducted to study the efficiency of aquatic plant systems for domestic wastewater treatment. The Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), Water Lily (Nymphaea spp.) and Cattail Plants (Typha spp.) were used in both isolation and combination systems. The designed HRT were 10, 15 and 20 days in each system. The result indicated that the efficiency of the water hyacinth system for TSS removal was highest at 94.95 % in 10-days HRT, BOD removal was highest at 89.42 % in 20-days HRT, TP removal was highest at 97.93 % and 97.94 % in 15-days HRT and 20 days HRT with no statistically significant difference at 95 %.The efficiency of the water lily system for TSS removal was highest at 86.85 % in 15-days HRT, BOD removal was highest at 81.75 % in 20-days HRT, TP removal was highest at 97.25 % in 20-days HRT. The efficiency of the cattail plants system for TSS removal was highest at 91.25 % in 10-days HRT, BOD removal was highest at 89.81 % in 10-days HRT, TP removal was highest at 98.71 % in 20-days HRT. The efficiency of the combined system for TSS removal was highest at 93.38 % and 92.58 % in 10-days HRT and 15-days HRT with no statistically significant difference at 95 %, BOD removal was highest of 81.56 % in 15-days HRT, TP removal was highest at 97.31 % in 20-days HRT. The results also indicated that within the HRT of 10 days, the highest TSS removal efficiency belonged to the water hyacinth system (94.95 %), the highest BOD removal efficiency belonged to the cattail plants system (89.81 %) and the highest TP removal efficiency belonged to the water hyacinth system (93.96 %). Within the HRT of 15 days, the highest TSS removal efficiency still belonged to the water hyacinth system as well as the combined system (92.14 % and 92.58 % respectively with no statistically significant difference at 95 %), the BOD removal efficiency of the four systems was between 78.00 % and 79.81 % with no statistically significant difference at 95 %. The highest TP removal efficiency belonged to the water hyacinth system (97.93 %). Within the HRT of 20 days, the highest TSS removal efficiency, again, belonged to the water hyacinth system (93.56 %), the highest BOD removal efficiency belonged to the water hyacinth system (89.42 %), the highest TP removal efficiency belonged to the water hyacinth system and the cattail system (97.94 % and 98.71 % respectively with no statistically significant difference at 95 %). For the TKN removal, efficiency of all designed HRT's was nearly 100 % due to the fact that TKN value of effluent was undetectable because of concentration of influent was low (ranged from 0.24 to 4.34 mg/L). The potential of applying selected aquatic plants in a larger scale ; the highest TSS Removal efficiency belonged to the water hyacinth system (ranged from 92.14 % to 94.95 %), the highest BOD removal efficiency belonged to the cattail plant system (ranged from 79.81 % to 89.81 %), the TP removal efficiency of all selected plants had high values (ranged from 88.48 % to 97.94 %) and the TKN removal efficiency of all selected plants was nearly 100 % (concentration of influent ranged from 0.24 mg/L to 4.34 mg/L). OPT 1.5 aquatic plant systems treatment wastewater water hyacinth water lily cattail


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