The Bakersfield big blue mechanical monster in the lake is pretty intimidating up close. The aquatic weed harvester acts like an underwater lawn mower. It moves about 5 mph and has cutter blades underneath it with an adjustable swath of about 8 feet wide and 6 feet deep.
The blades cut the weeds as they grow toward the surface of the water, which then float up to a conveyor belt. The belt transfers the weeds to a space in the center of the boat that is emptied out on shore where the weeds are picked up, put in trucks and hauled away.
“The big advantage of it is that we don’t have to use a lot of chemicals,” says Don Richardson, Bakersfield Water superintendent.
Using chemicals to kill weeds in lakes can be dangerous because the chemicals could seep into the groundwater. Also, one chemical treatment for a lake can cost about $16,000. The used boat was purchased in August 2011 for $25,000 and according to Richardson, has already paid for itself.