The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is now requiring boaters to decontaminate their boats before leaving Lake Powell. The recent discovery of 14 adult mussels at the lake prompted the order, which was recently signed by DWR Director Greg Sheehan, according to a news release.
State park officials said the order should lessen the chance that zebra and quagga mussels could be transported from Lake Powell to other bodies of water in Utah, according to the news release.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep quagga and zebra mussels out of Utah,” said Larry Dalton, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Utah DWR. “If mussels ever establish themselves here, they could do millions of dollars in damage to water delivery systems. They could also affect the state’s recreation areas and fishing, and damage boats.”
Dalton said boat owners can decontaminate their own boats or have the job done professionally. Either way, a decontamination certification form must be completed, he said. The form, which is available online at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/invasive-mussels/454-formoptions.html, must be displayed in the launch vehicle before the boat is launched on any water in Utah, according to the news release.
Instructions for how to decontaminate a boat are also available online at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/decontaminate.html.
Dalton said the order will remain in place for an indefinite period of time.
“The order will stay in place as long as there are mussels in Lake Powell,” Dalton said.
Quagga and zebra mussels move from water to water by attaching themselves to boats and other equipment that comes in contact with the water, Utah DWR officials said.
Dalton said cleaning, draining and drying the boat and any recreational equipment that comes in contact with the water is the key to eliminating the mussels.
“You can do this yourself and it won’t cost you a thing,” he said.
The Utah DWR outlined three steps to clean, drain and dry a boat:
• Remove all of the plants, mud or animals (attached mussels or fish) from the boat’s exterior and interior by wiping the exterior and interior clean.
• Drain all the water from all places in the boat where it may have accumulated. This includes the ballast tanks, the bilge, live wells and the motor. Even coolers that contain water from the lake should be drained, officials said.
The first two steps should be done immediately after pulling the boat from the water and up the launch ramp.
“Doing these steps should become as routine as securing your boat to its trailer,” Dalton said. “Make sure you do them every time.”
• Dry the boat and all the equipment that got wet (water toys, anchor or tie ropes and the anchor chest) at home or where the equipment is stored. The Utah DWR recommends allowing 18 days for proper drying in the months of March, April and May; seven days in June, July and August; 18 days in September, October and November; and 30 days in the winter months of December, January and February.
Temperatures that drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for three straight days will also kill the mussels, Utah DWR officials said.
A video demonstrating proper boat decontamination techniques is available at the Utah DWR’s YouTube site — www.youtube.com/UDWR. The video is titled “Stop the spread of invasive mussels from Sand Hollow — clean, drain and dry your boat.”
“If you want to get your boat on the water before the drying times allow, you’ll have to get it professionally decontaminated,” Dalton said. “Decontamination equipment is available at most of Utah’s popular boating waters,and the service is typically free.”
A certified operator will wash the boat inside and out with scalding hot water and will also use the hot water to flush the boat’s raw-water circulation systems. To locate a decontamination unit, call a regional DWR aquatic invasive species biologist. In southeastern Utah, contact biologist Mike Bolinski at 435-630-3132. Telephone numbers for Utah DWR biologists across the state are available on line at http://go.usa.gov/RfK.