GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) - A non-indigenous plant is choking the life out of some bayous and waterways in east Jackson County.
Salvinia Molesta, or Koi Kandy, is common in the Amazon and southeast Asia. It was first spotted in coastal Mississippi back in 2005, but in the past two months, the problem has gotten much worse.
Sioux Bayou in Gautier doesn’t even look like a bayou, with the plant completely covering the water and spreading fast. Homeowners, like Jim Dunn, are concerned about property values.
“I’d hate to sell my house right now. This is waterfront property without the waterfront. So it would cost me thousands of dollars," Dunn said. “I feel sorry for my neighbor down the bayou. Their house is for sale and good luck to him selling it.”
For him, water recreation, including boating is impossible.
“I had hoped to be able to Snapper fish this year and go out to the islands, but I’m afraid to run it in this stuff. I’m afraid it will clog my water intake and the engine will overheat.”
Even smaller vessels are overwhelmed by the clogged bayou.
“I had my canoe out the other day just to see how thick it was and I couldn’t paddle it at all. I just sat there," Dunn explained.
Gautier City Councilman Rusty Anderson said the Department of Marine Resources is working on the problem.
“The DMR representatives are using a spray tactic that is affecting it a little bit, but it’s not effecting to the point that the stuff is going away,” Anderson said.
Not only is the Koi Kandy unsightly and bad for the aquatic environment in east Jackson County bayous and waterways, it can also be very dangerous, according to Anderson.
“If a child or someone was to fall overboard in this stuff, it’s impossible to swim through, and motivate yourself to get back to shore.”
Since the plant thrives in fresh water, Jackson County Supervisor Ken Taylor believes recent events in Louisiana could be to blame.
“It looks to me like we’ve got a brand new problem, and that’s called salinity," Taylor said. "And I think it will very likely go over to the Bonnet Carre Spillway, which is just dumping all kinds of chemicals and fresh water into our sound.”
Officials with the DMR tell us they will step up efforts to continue spraying the affected waterways in hopes of stopping the spread of the plant. They are also looking at possible alternative methods of getting rid of the Koi Kandy.