This concept is not new or unusual. Anyone who maintains a car, or a lawn, practices the maintenance control concept. Preventive maintenance on a car is when one frequently spends small amounts of time and money to prevent major breakdowns or repairs that can cost much more or perhaps even the loss of the use of the car. For example with a lawn, one would not allow the grass to become too tall or allow weeds or some other lawn pest to kill all the grass before taking some corrective action. Maintenance control prevents damage to a lawn and limits the time, effort and money necessary to keep it attractive and in good health.
Maintenance control is the preferred method of managing noxious aquatic vegetation such as hydrilla, water-hyacinth and water-lettuce. To understand what maintenance control is, it is best to first understand what it is not. First, it is not allowing our lakes or rivers to become completely covered with noxious, aquatic weeds. Letting noxious aquatic weeds take over a water body may not only render that water body virtually unusable for recreation or fishing, but it may also displace desirable native plants, adversely affect fish and wildlife populations, interfere with flood control, irrigation, and potable water uses.
Maintenance control is not allowing certain aquatic plants to build up to levels that provide habitat for disease carriers such as some species of mosquitoes, or to present other health and safety dangers to the public. To allow such things to occur before any effort was made to manage these noxious plants, would be considered crisis management. When workers are out managing noxious, aquatic weeds, they are normally conducting maintenance control, not crisis management.
What then is maintenance control? Florida law defines maintenance control as a method of control in which techniques are utilized in a coordinated manner on a continuous basis in order to maintain the plant population at the lowest feasible level as determined by the Department of Environmental Protection. In every day language, that means maintenance control is a systematic, planned approach for controlling noxious aquatic weeds. The specific goals and objectives of each management plan are developed through interagency coordination and public input.