What is “Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting”?

Aquacleaner environmental has refined and developed technology for dredging as a means of restoring and reclaiming lakes and ponds by manufacturing a small dredge pump and a unique system that delivers impressive results. Typical issues involved in the permitting process focus on the disturbance in the water and up land. Our system offers the means to remove accumulated organic sediment with a minor, short term impact in the water and because we don’t move large amounts of material at any given time, we can manage what we move up land with minimal impact as well. Our system is so unique that it was featured on the discovery channels show “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe”.

Removing the organic silt build up that has accumulated over time and bringing the bottom back to its natural condition, will aid in the restoration and reclamation of a water body by reducing the nutrient load, removing layers of dead decomposing invasive plants and reclaiming the natural bottom.

Science & Dynamics:
Dredging is no longer a nasty eight letter word but rather the natural progression in the remediation of your water way because you are removing the biomass and nutrients that have accumulated over the years in an environmentally sound manner. Firming up the bottom and removing the layers of fragments of invasive plants along with the organic silt has been shown to reduce the growth of invasive plants and prevent algae blooms. Our machines are designed to only extract the soft organic material and not change the natural hardpan contours of your bottom.

How It Works:
The traditional method for removing soil entailed having a large construction excavator operate either from your dock or out on a barge. This process is imprecise and not very effective. Scooping large volumes of soil from a water way is intrusive, disrupting the ecosystem and doesn’t afford a close tight cleaning. Pumps are the preferred method of dredging but the norm in the industry is large, aggressive machines, which move huge amounts of water (1500gpm and up) along with sediment and are very hard to manage in a smallcontained area like the backyard of your lakefront property.

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‘Suction harvesting’ technique is tested on invasive weeds in Center Lake

With a half dozen lawn chairs set up to observe, Bruce Brown could not contain his giddiness. There was an exciting prospect before him: a new way to keep weeds out of Center Lake.

Unlike other forms of weed control, the four-person crew in the water this week pulled weeds and other invasive plants out of the bottom of the lake — root and all.

Manitou Beach-based Aqua Cleaner Michigan spent three days at Center Lake using a technique known as “suction harvesting,” which involves a diver pulling weeds out of the water and a vacuum hose drawing them into a small boat.

The weeds are then filtered through a mesh bag and taken off shore. Each bag weighs around 125 pounds out of the water and 80 pounds once it dries.

About 40 bags were pulled both Monday and Tuesday, Brown said. They will be sent to a farm in Parma to be used as fertilizer.

Leaders of the Clear Water Association, a collection of some 300 homeowners that surround the lake in Leoni and Napoleon townships, believe this could be a step toward making the weeds more manageable. In some areas of the lake, there are 2 feet of weeds in about 4 feet of water.

Each year, the organization spends between $40,000 and $45,000 on chemicals to clear the Leoni part of the lake of weeds, said association president Dave Zemer. The treatment is paid for by a $150 annual tax paid by lake residents.

But chemicals can only go so far, said vice president John Zimmer. While they kill weeds, they do not get rid of the roots.

The 1.5 acres of shoreline harvested Monday was part of a test to see how the system works. Brown said he will keep an eye on the water next spring to see how much of the weeds regenerate.

Aqua Cleaner Michigan did Monday’s removal for free and continued working Tuesday and Wednesday charging its regular rate of $200 an hour, during which time it can clear around 300 feet of foliage.

“It’s like weeding a garden,” said Gary Marzolf, president of Aqua Cleaner Michigan. “We get most of them but not 100 percent.”

The Michigan company was founded last October in conjunction with Aqua Cleaner Environmental of New York. The company came up with the suction method nine years ago and works in lakes across New England and in Florida.

Marzolf said his company is trying to get rid of the invasive species that are taking over lakes in Michigan. Since its first job in May, his four-person crew has gone to Escanaba, Higgins Lake in Lyon and Torch Lake.

The process does well around docks and swimming areas, Marzolf said, because the high traffic keeps the weeds from growing back.

If it proves successful, the Clear Water Association likely will spend less money on chemicals and more on the suction service, Brown said.

While members of the association don’t want to destroy biodiversity by getting rid of everything in the lake, they do want to clean up areas near docks and areas known as “weed islands” in the center of the lake.

“It’s never going to be like a swimming pool, and we don’t want it to be,” Brown said.

Facts and Stats About Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting

History: DASH has been a technique used to remove and suppress invasive plants, since the Mid 70’s however few companies have invested any resources to expand on the technology. Aquacleaner Environmental has been in this field since 2000 and has defined it’s roll in the waterfront restoration industry by manufacturing a variety of suction harvesting machines including the most aggressive and mechanized system to date. In the service portion of our business we continue to lead the way by extracting more aquatic vegetation and working with a variety of invasive plants. In the 2008 season we removed over 20,000 onion bags of plants totaling over 500 tons of bio mass.

The amount of bottom time our divers have has lead us to develop some very unique techniques which help yield quality suppressions of invasive plants. The operation of the nozzle is a key component to successful use of DASH. Working in turbid water and removing the plant that you can see along with it’s associated roots crown is only part of the technique but removing years past plants in various stages of decomposition will help yield the best results.

Other forms of suppression including solar powered water circulators, benthic matting, mechanical harvesting, and spot-herbicide treatment typically are only band aids since they don’t address the root of the problem. Hand harvesting while being a valid form of plant removal does not offer the rate of progress (ROP) compared to that of DASH because a diver can only remove a small group of plants per hour, in a small confined area. When a patch is dense and has been present for a number of seasons, or when the plants or tall (over 4’), hand harvesting becomes a slow tedious process. Capturing the fragments of these plants can further slow down this process.