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News article created on 17 July 2015

Waging war on London's duckweed

Work is underway this week to remove a green carpet of weed that is engulfing the canal in Little Venice.

We've begun the painstaking task of removing millions of pieces of floating duck weed from the water, which multiplies in the humid and damp weather.

While an individual piece of duck weed is no bigger than a ladybird, congregated together they can resemble a thick carpet across the canal. This accumulates litter, which can be problematic for the hundreds of boats and leisure craft on the water. The weed is not harmful to people, but dogs and other animals have been known to mistake it for grass, and ended up in the water. Significantly, if left to thrive, it can cause problems for other aquatic wildlife by starving it of oxygen and sunlight.

We're reminding people to take care when out walking with dogs and with their families, and asking people not to throw litter onto the weed.

Darren Jones, Canal & River Trust waterway supervisor, said: “Little Venice is really busy this time of year with people enjoying the canal and plenty of visitors using the trip boats that launch from here. So many of them stop to ask what the weed is, because it looks so unusual.

“The weed isn’t harmful to people, but it does spoil the beauty of the canal. Removing it is a painstaking job for the team because the pieces are tiny and they move as the boat makes its way through the water. It’s like trying to mow a moving lawn. With the weather like it is, no sooner have we cleaned a section, than a new lot has floated in, but we’re confident of getting rid of the majority before it gets any worse.”