Law enforcement officers and technicians for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources had a busy Fourth of July weekend working to prevent invasive quagga mussels from spreading, according to a press release from the agency.
A total of 210 boats were decontaminated at stations in the Lake Powell area and Kanab from Saturday to Sunday. During those decontaminations, mussels were discovered on 157 of the boats, giving a stark reminder of why boaters must have their boats decontaminated when leaving Lake Powell. Seventeen people received citations (misdemeanor and rule violations) for either not stopping for inspections or for transporting their boat with the plug still in.
“We are doing everything we can to protect Utah’s water infrastructure,” Scott Dalebout, the DWR statewide operations lieutenant said. “This isn’t just about preventing damage to boats — this is about making sure these invasive species don’t spread to other water bodies where they will get into water pipelines and cause millions of dollars in damage to Utah’s water infrastructure. Every Utahn should absolutely be committed to doing what they can to prevent these mussels from spreading.”
The quagga situation at Lake Powell has worsened this year, due to the rising lake levels which have caused previously exposed mussels to dislodge and float in the water, officials say. That means that significantly more boats are leaving Lake Powell with mussels and shells onboard their vessels, sucked into sea strainers, or on anchors and in compartments compared to last year.
There are currently over 40 decontamination stations throughout the state. Before the Fourth of July weekend, additional stations, staff and law enforcement were established at Lake Powell and the surrounding areas. These additional resources will be implemented again during other busy holiday weekends this year, as well.
Boaters should remember that they must receive a decontamination before leaving Lake Powell. Visit the DWR website for a list of all the decontamination stations around the state.
Why are quagga mussels so bad?
- They can plug water lines, even lines that are large in diameter.
- If they get into water delivery systems in Utah, it will cost millions of dollars annually to remove them and keep the pipes free, which would likely result in higher utility bills, officials say.
- They remove plankton from the water, which supports fish species in Utah.
- Mussels can get into a boat’s engine cooling system. Once they do, they can foul the system and damage the engine.
- When mussels die in large numbers, they stink. The sharp shells of dead mussels can cut your feet as you walk along the beaches.