The town of Monument has invested in a new machine that uses super-heated steam to kill weeds instead of chemicals.
Landscape Supervisor Cassie Olgren said Monument bought the weed steamer earlier this year at a cost of more than $15,000.
“In recent years, there’s been increased concern about health and the environment when it comes to using chemicals to treat weeds,” Olgren said. “We were just trying to move in a more sustainable direction. It’s better for the environment, and generally the right thing to do.”
Previously, workers would use chemicals to treat weeds or pull them by hand, Olgren said.
“That was pretty time consuming,” she said.
Now, the public works department can take the machine out for about an hour at a time and use the steam to kill weeds. The machine is mounted on a truck, along with a 100-gallon water tank. One worker mans the steamer while another monitors the gauges.
“The public is curious about it. They ask what I’m spraying, and I get to say I’m just spraying water,” Olgren said. “I feel a lot better about using it, especially in these public right-of-ways where people are walking their dogs, their children are playing. On our trail, the Santa Fe Trail that is really busy, there’s never a good time to block it off to use chemicals, and when I’m using the steamer, people can continue using the trail. They just ride right past me or walk right past me and there’s no danger to them, which is really great.”
Olgren said the town bought the machine to be more eco-friendly and because of concerns about weed-killing chemicals causing cancer.
“Over time, it can be unhealthy for the applicator, as well, so we’re just trying to think long-term in terms of the environment and public health,” she said.
Olgren said she believes Monument is one of the first towns in the area to use the method to kill weeds.
“I would say in this area, we were one of the first, but definitely not the last,” Olgren said. “In Colorado, I think there is a general concern for that and everyone is trying to find better solutions.