Letter — Rickards touts duckweed projects


Is your community impacted by polluted ponds, rivers or streams? There is a highly ignored aquatic plant that has the ability to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from our drainage systems. This would lower the pollution entering and therefore improve the health of our bays and waterways.

In 2012, a National Science Foundation (NSF) study proved that the common aquatic plant, duckweed, can reduce the nutrients responsible for the poor quality of our waterways. The NSF SBIR grant is available on the internet at http://grantome.com/brant/NSF/IIP-1215076 and will better explain the study.

Birdsong Gardens was the subcontractor for this grant. We placed 1,900 gallons of water from the Millsboro pond into a lined 8-by-8-by-4-foot and were able to reduce the phosphorus level to zero in less than one week and the nitrogen level to zero in less than two weeks by using duckweed to consume these nutrients.

Research tells us that a drainage ditch could be treated, using duckweed, and analyzed for as little as $40,000 per year. This will allow for 25 floating booms placed 50 feet apart and seeded with duckweed to consume pollution from the ditch.

Water samples will be taken weekly prior to the first and after the last boom and analyzed to show the nutrient reduction achieved. The duckweed will be harvested weekly and analyzed at the end of the year, showing exactly how many pounds of phosphorus and nitrogen pollution were removed prior to entering our bays and waterways.

Although this amount is likely too much for an individual, we can ask our elected officials to do something or we can work together to take action ourselves.

If you are as tired of waiting for the government to act as I am, then consider community action by contacting Birdsong Gardens at (302) 539-9034 or Birdsong_Gardens@aol.com. Together we can make a plan.

Every community needs to reach out and connect with their neighbors to adopt a ditch. Together we can make a difference and improve the health of our bays. This will enable us to again safely fish, crab and swim in our waterways.


David O. Rickards