10-30-2008, 04:36 PM #1
California reminders: don't move a Mussel
California Reminds Boaters & Water Users: Don’t Move A Mussel
New Invasive Mussel Guidebook Available Online
Alexia Retallack, 916-322-8944
Jordan Traverso, 916-654-9937
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A state multi-agency taskforce today unveiled a guidebook to help water managers and recreationalists take part in the fight against invasive Quagga and Zebra mussels. The “Invasive Mussel Guidebook” outlines how aquatic mollusks can devastate waterways and why local governments and water users should encourage all Californians not to move a mussel.
The taskforce - composed of California’s Department of Fish and Game, Department of Water Resources, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Boating and Waterways and Department of Food and Agriculture - is working to advance understanding about these mussels and their potential ecological and economic impacts. However, it is local officials and residents who must take critical steps to address this important issue.
Quagga and Zebra mussels were first detected in the Great Lakes in the late 1980s, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to water delivery systems. They were first detected in the Colorado River system in January 2007 and were later found in San Diego and Riverside counties by state and local water agencies. Zebra mussels were discovered in San Justo Reservoir in San Benito County in January 2008.
The “Invasive Mussel Guidebook” provides strategies for local involvement in the Quagga and Zebra mussel response. Although the mussels are not established in all California lakes and reservoirs, most areas of the state are vulnerable to future transport and contamination by the species. Because the mussels are primarily transported by watercraft, water managers are urged to develop policies to ensure that the invasive mollusks are not moved via boats or ballast water.
Both species of mussel are non-native aquatic mollusks that wreak havoc on the environment by disrupting the natural food chain and releasing toxins that affect other aquatic species. Although they range in size from microscopic to the size of a fingernail, they are prolific and attach themselves to hard and soft surfaces.
In addition to devastating the natural environment, Quagga and Zebra mussels pose a dramatic economic threat to California. The mussels can colonize on hulls, engines and steering components of boats, other recreational equipment, and can damage boat motors and restrict cooling.
The invasive species also attach to aquatic plants, and submerged sediment and surfaces such as piers, pilings, water intakes, and fish screens. In doing this, water intake structures can be clogged, hampering the flow of water. The mussels frequently settle in massive colonies that can block water intake and threaten municipal water supply, agricultural irrigation and power plant operations.
Zebra mussels inhabit water depths from four to 180 feet, while Quagga can reach depths more than 400 feet. Both mollusks can attach to and damage boat trailers, cooling systems, boat hulls and steering equipment. Mussels attached to watercraft or trailers can be transported and spread to other water bodies. Water in boat engines, bilges, live wells and buckets can carry mussel larvae (called veligers) to other water bodies as well.
To help prevent the spread of the mussels, boaters should inspect all exposed surfaces, wash boat hulls thoroughly, remove all plants from boat and trailer, drain all water, including lower outboard units, clean and dry livewells and bait buckets and dispose baitfish in the trash.
Most importantly, watercraft should be dried for at least five days between launches in different fresh bodies of water. These steps are designed to thwart spread of the invasive mussels, safeguard boats and preserve high-quality fisheries.
The taskforce is currently working to determine the extent of the Quagga and Zebra mussel threat and to educate watercraft users and water managers about what they can do to help. As part of the public education effort, the state has facilitated nearly a dozen Quagga/Zebra inspection and decontamination trainings for more than 300 individuals in San Diego, Redding, Fresno, Stockton, Monterey, Los Alamitos, Onatrio, Lake County, Sacramento and Yountville.
To date, the taskforce has distributed more than 1.75 million information cards and 1.2 million letters to registered boaters and other water users around the state about the Quagga and Zebra mussel threat. The California Department of Food and Agriculture has inspected nearly 180,000 watercraft at its 16 Border Protection Stations since 2007. Inspections continue daily.
To access the “Invasive Mussel Guidebook” in its entirety, please visit www.resources.ca.gov/quagga.
A public toll-free hotline - 1-866-440-9530 - has also been established for information about destructive Quagga and Zebra mussels. The toll-free number is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about the Quagga/Zebra mussel response, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/invasives/quaggamussel.
10-30-2008, 09:44 PM #2
PIPE CLOGGING MUSSELS arrive in Valley Water
The discovery of quagga mussels in a water-diversion channel east of Mesa raises the risk that the invasive mollusk could use the Valley's network of canals to spread farther into Arizona and possibly damage water-treatment plants.
The canals supply water for most Valley communities, at least two power plants, more than a dozen urban lakes and thousands of customers of farm and residential irrigation.
Salt River Project workers found 11 quagga mussels earlier this month and four more Wednesday on monitoring lines near Granite Reef Dam, where water is diverted into the canals.
Just one female quagga can produce 40,000 eggs in a breeding cycle and up to 1 million eggs in a year.
The thumbnail-size mussels pose no health risk to drinking water, but they can clog pipes, jam mechanical equipment, increase maintenance costs on water-distribution systems and alter riparian ecosystems.
How many mussels have made their way into the diversion channel or downstream is unknown, but finding even a few on a monitoring block is significant. The four found Wednesday had attached themselves since the block was last checked about two weeks ago.
"It means they are able to settle in our canals," said Lesly Swanson, an environmental scientist for SRP. "We knew they had been coming in from the (Central Arizona Project Canal) for a while. It's really a question of why we haven't found them sooner."
Quaggas have colonized the lower Colorado River since they were discovered in the river in January 2007. Especially hard hit is Lake Havasu, the source of water for the CAP Canal, which moves water to Phoenix and Tucson.
Once mussels showed up in the canal, SRP officials knew it was only a matter of time before they moved into the urban channels.
SRP will take a closer look at canal walls in the coming months during annual maintenance, when lengths of the waterways are drained for several weeks.
The utility plans to meet with its municipal customers to discuss how they can protect the treatment plants. The biggest fear is that mussels could attach themselves to intake pipes and block the flow of water into a treatment plant. That would increase maintenance costs at a time when municipal budgets are strained.
"We hope we never get to that point," said Brian Moorhead, an SRP environmental scientist who focuses on the urban canals. "If we do, we start to lose capacity all over the system."
On the lookout
Moorhead checks a series of monitoring lines in canals every two weeks. He uses concrete blocks and plastic plates attached to ropes or chains.
On Wednesday, he pulled a line up in the diversion channel at Granite Reef.
"We've got one here," he said, carefully wiping away sediment to expose a single mussel. A moment later, "here's another one."
Once quaggas establish themselves, counting them is nearly impossible. At Parker and Davis dams on the lower Colorado, workers have scraped away 3- or 4-inch layers of mussels on an iron gate as tall as a man.
Most communities say they are aware of the threat and have begun taking steps on their own, though few have begun to calculate the added costs if mussels fill pipes.
"We have equipment in place that would prevent the mussels from entering the (treatment) plants," said Mike Phillips, Scottsdale spokesman. "We're working with SRP and CAP to see what we can do to control the mussels."
Mesa officials are examining a range of possible responses, spokesman Ian Satter said, including mechanically scrubbing pipes and other surfaces or dosing water with chlorine earlier in the process.
Water for SRP's residential-irrigation system does not pass through treatment plants, flowing instead directly to homes in pipes and smaller canals. Although it's unlikely residents would ever see quaggas in their backyards, the mussels could choke pipes or gum up the gates used to divert water.
Water from SRP and CAP canals also helps fill 14 of the 16 urban lakes located in city parks and occasionally replenishes Tempe Town Lake.
Town Lake was stocked earlier this year with red-ear sunfish, a species sometimes known as shellcrackers and a predator of shellfish, said Nancy Ryan, Rio Salado Project manager. Biologists don't yet know if the sunfish can control a quagga infestation.
Scientists also are unsure about how the mussels may change the chemistry or ecology of a small urban lake in a desert climate. Most recent studies focused on the Great Lakes, where mollusks from Eastern Europe were discovered in this country.
"There will be some consequences," said Larry Riley, a biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "Whether they will be dire ecological consequences is difficult to predict."
Riley said conditions in the smaller urban lakes can be controlled. His agency works with parks departments to maintain sport-fishing populations and can advise communities if conditions start to change.
Other solutions may emerge, such as a specific microbial toxin that would target quaggas. A California company is preparing to offer such a product, known as a biopesticide.
The most effective approach is to slow the spread of quaggas on boats and other watercraft. Most scientists believe the first mussels that settled in the Colorado River arrived on a boat that had been in an infected lake in the upper Midwest.
"Taking a few simple steps to clean, drain and dry gear can help a lot," Riley said. "By not paying attention, someone could make a mistake that threatens our waters."
Pipe-clogging mussels arrive in Valley water
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