Quagga Mussels Found in Lake Powell for First Time

According to a May Summit Voice article, invasive quagga mussels, that have gummed up waterworks and fouled ecosystems across the country, have now been found for the first time in Lake Powell. This great southwestern reservoir is a key component of the overall water storage system in the Colorado River Basin. The National Park Service recently identified 14 adult quagga mussels attached to moored vessels and dock structures at the Wahweap Marina in Lake Powell. None of the adult mussels were close enough together to mate for successful reproduction. All of the mussels were physically removed from the lake. The first four mussels were found when a local marine service business noticed the small shells on a boat that had been pulled for maintenance and then notified the park service. “We really appreciate the report of this finding since it will help in the removal of the adult mussels before they can reproduce,” said Mark Anderson, a Glen Canyon ecologist. “It’s likely that the mussels were introduced via ballast or bilge water from a boat that was not cleaned, drained, or dried.” Boats, docks, and cables in Wahweap Bay will continue to be assessed by the NPS dive team. The Antelope Point area was inspected beginning in December of 2012 with no mussels discovered. “If it is an early detection, the mussels may not establish and reproduce,” said Glen Canyon National Recreation Area supervisor Todd Brindle. “It is important to note that we have not found a reproducing population,” Anderson said. “Prevention is still the most effective way to fight invasive species, so we will continue the boat inspections that are currently in place. Everyone needs to take this as a warning to continue to clean, drain, and dry your boat and equipment after every use.”
Why all of the concern over these little critters? According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) website:
Invasive mussels can clog intakes, trash racks, strainers, pipes, fire control systems, cooling water systems, and fish screens, resulting significant costs to protect water and hydropower systems. They have an enormous capacity to filter water and out-compete other filter feeders. This filtering also increases water clarity, resulting in the potential for significantly increased aquatic weed loads that can also impact water diversion, distribution, and hydropower operations and maintenance. Impacts also include alterations in aquatic ecosystems, thus adversely affecting native organisms and endangered species. In essence, zebra and quagga mussels can harm almost every aspect of water and related resources. Zebra/Quagga Mussels are biofoulers that obstruct pipes in municipal and industrial raw-water systems, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars annually to treat.

To help address invasive mussel issues, the BOR has established an invasive mussel corporate task force to focus on a four-part strategy: (1) outreach and education, (2) research, (3) monitoring and prevention of infestation, and (4) control and mitigation. This task force is helping guide Reclamation in the most effective and efficient use of staff and resources, focusing on facilities that are either already impacted by mussels or that will likely be impacted in the future. For more information visit their website at www.usbr.gov/mussels. The following, too, provides additional information: www.aquaticnuisance.org and www.100thmeridian.org.