With harmful zebra mussels invading Texas lakes, the Lower Colorado River Authority wants boaters to take proper precautions to ensure their boats are free of the destructive mollusks before entering the Highland Lakes.
Zebra mussels can be spread by boats carrying the adult mussels or their microscopic larvae. They are exceptional breeders, and once the mussels establish themselves, there is little that can be done to stop them from spreading. None have been found in the Highland Lakes, and LCRA wants boaters to take correct steps to keep them out.
“It is important that we do everything we can to protect the Highland Lakes from this invasive species,” LCRA General Manager Tom Mason said. “Zebra mussels can harm recreation, utilities and native species. Everyone needs to be vigilant against this threat.”
Zebra mussels were first found in Texas in Lake Texoma in 2009, where they continue to spread and cause damage to water system pipes. In April, zebra mussels were found on a boat on Lake Ray Hubbard near Dallas and a single mussel was also found in the lake by a diver. In May, zebra mussels were found on a boat on Lake Lavon. So far, there is no indication that a population has become established in lakes Lavon or Ray Hubbard, but all boaters who have visited these lakes should take precautions to avoid potentially spreading the destructive mussels to other water bodies in Texas.
Zebra mussels are highly invasive freshwater mussels from Russia that can take over a lake and cause tremendous damage to boats and docks, as well as to water utility infrastructure and a lake’s environment. The mussels were first found in Michigan’s Lake St. Clair in 1988 and have since infested water bodies throughout the Great Lakes area, the Mississippi Valley and much of the Northeast.
Boaters and anglers can help slow the spread of zebra mussels from one water body to another by practicing the following steps recommended by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department when leaving any water suspected of having zebra mussels.
- · Clean: Inspect your boat, trailer and gear and remove any zebra mussels, vegetation or foreign objects. If you find zebra mussels, or if your boat has been kept on a lake known to have zebra mussels, then it needs to be fully decontaminated. Thoroughly wash your boat, trailer and any gear that has been in the water, ideally at a commercial carwash or using a high-pressure sprayer with hot (140 degrees), soapy water. Water above 140 degrees will kill the zebra mussels and the high pressure wash will help remove them from your boat. Also, if your boat has internal operating systems (engine cooling, air conditioning, head, etc.) that take up water from the lake, it may require the services of a marina or boat mechanic to ensure all zebra mussels are removed to help prevent damage to your boat.
- · Drain: Drain all water from the boat, including the engine, bilge, livewells and bait buckets, before leaving the lake.
- · Dry: Open all compartments and livewells and allow the boat and trailer to sit completely dry for a week or more before entering another water body.
For more information on zebra mussels, see www.texasinvasives.org.