By Leigh Martinez

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Stockton’s water hyacinth is not a new problem, but it appears to be getting worse every year.

The only vessels getting through the waterfront with ease are Rick Hatton’s fleet of hyacinth harvesters.

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The invasive plant choking up the Port of Stockton is the worst Hatton has ever seen. His company Aquatic Harvesting Inc travels from Arizona to Washington clearing out waterways. Hatton and the State Park’s Division of Boating and Waterways share the same theory on why the hyacinth seems to be multiplying and it has to do with California’s drought.

“With no snow, we don’t have cold water coming down into the Delta, so the water got really warm,” said Hatton.

Plants thrive on warmth and sunshine. It’s certainly keeping Hatton’s team in business. The Port of Stockton hired him to clear the water quickly for ships to get through. Hatton said one eight-hour shift once yielded 90 loads of hyacinth. The state is taking a different approach in eradicating the hyacinth, but it’s much slower.

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The Division of Boating and Waterways said it’s using an herbicide. In an email from the Division’s deputy director, it said “We treat infested areas with Glyphosate. We were out in Stockton a couple of weeks ago, and sprayed 28 acres…”

The Glyphosate herbicide will take two to three weeks to kill the hyacinth. So why hasn’t the state found a better way to kill the invasive plant?

The Division of Boating and Waterways said it has yet to find any effective erradication method in the world for water hyacinth. There is one powerful herbicide that kills it on contact, R24D, but the state has environmental restrictions on when it can be used, especially during the season for fish migration.

“Actually, [hyacinth] all goes away when you get that freeze,” said Hatton. “When things get really cold, it kills the plant.”

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The state must be done spraying herbicide by November 30th, according to its permit. Hatton said he’ll stick around longer than that; until all of the water hyacinth plants are pulled out of Stockton’s water.