STD, which stands for skiff-transmitted disease, refers to invasive mussels that spread by attaching to boats or getting into water that remains in boats after a day of boating or fishing, Utah DWR officials said in a news release.
“Invasive mussels are a serious threat to Utah’s drinking water supply and the state’s recreational waters,” said DWR Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program Coordinator Jordan Nielson. “An infestation of invasive mussels can destroy fisheries, pollute shorelines and beaches, damage boats and equipment, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars to control.”
Mussels have already infected Lake Powell, and DWR officials said they need the help of every boater in Utah to prevent them from spreading to other lakes and reservoirs in the state.
“The goal of the ‘STD of the Sea’ campaign is to help boaters understand how serious this issue is and how important it is that they properly decontaminate their boats and other watercraft,” said DWR AIS Biologist Nate Owens. “If all boaters work together, our waters will remain clear of mussels. Once mussels infest a body of water, there isn’t anything we can do to get them back out.”
Drivers will start seeing more invasive mussels checkpoints throughout Utah, including at the state border, Bear Lake and Lake Powell. At these checkpoints, vehicles hauling boats must pull over so the watercraft can be inspected for mussels or standing water, according to the news release. If either is found, the driver might be issued a citation. If necessary, the boat will be decontaminated with hot water.
The DWR recommends that all boaters follow a three-part protocol to help prevent the spread of the invasive mussels.
Those steps are:
• Clean all plants and mud from each area of the boat, including the trailer, hull, bilge and other equipment;
• Drain the boat. Pull all plugs and fully drain all water from the boat, including live wells, ballast tanks, bladders and bilges;
• Dry the boat. Allow boats to dry completely before launching in other waters. Boats should be given seven days to thoroughly dry in summer, 18 days in the spring or fall and 30 days in winter — or freeze for three straight days, DWR officials said.
The next time the boat is used, the boater must fill out a certification form verifying that the boat has been decontaminated. Failure to properly decontaminate a boat can result in a citation and fine, according to the agency.
Boaters can also have their watercraft professionally decontaminated, free of charge. To find a decontamination station, and to learn more about invasive mussels, visit STDoftheSea.com.