Lake Waco has become the seventh lake in Texas to be infested by invasive zebra mussels.
City of Waco employees found suspected zebra mussels on September 26, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) employees confirmed their presence Monday.
Brian Van Zee, Inland Fisheries Regional Director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), said, “This recent infestation is very disappointing, because TPWD, the City of Waco and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) have been working collaboratively for the past couple of years to educate the boating public about the zebra mussel threat.”
Thus far, all of the zebra mussels found have been located near a single boat ramp. If the population expands throughout the lake, it could impact the City of Waco and their water intake system as well as the fisheries and aquatic resources in the lake.
The rapidly reproducing mussels, originally from Eurasia, can have serious economic, environmental and recreational impacts on Texas reservoirs. Zebra mussels can clog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors left in infested waters, annoy lake property owners by completely covering anything left under water and make water recreation hazardous because of their sharp edges. Heath McLane, Waco Lake Manager for the USACOE, said, “This is very discouraging news, and it will impact how we do business.”
In Texas it is illegal to possess or transport aquatic invasive species, and a rule that went into effect on July 1 requires persons leaving or approaching public water to drain all water from their vessels and on-board receptacles. This applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes, or any other vessel used on public waters. The rule is based on the fact that trailered boats tend to be the most likely way zebra mussels get transported from one water body to another.
Zebra mussels became established in Texas in Lake Texoma in 2009. In 2012, they were found in Lake Ray Roberts and the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. In 2013, zebra mussels spread to Lakes Bridgeport, Lavon, Lewisville and Belton.
TPWD and a coalition of partners have been working to slow the spread of zebra mussels by reminding boaters to Clean, Drain and Dry their vessels before traveling from one lake to another. The partners in this effort include: North Texas Municipal Water District, Tarrant Regional Water District, City of Dallas Water Utilities Department, Trinity River Authority, San Jacinto River Authority, Sabine River Authority, Brazos River Authority, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, Lower Colorado River Authority, Upper Trinity Regional Water District, Canadian River Municipal Water Authority, City of Grapevine, City of Waco, Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
More information, including where water draining regulations are currently in effect, is online at www.texasinvasives.org/
PHOTOS showing zebra mussels and the problems they cause are available for news media use as high resolution .jpgs at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/
A VIDEO NEWS REPORT about zebra mussels and new regulations to control their spread can be viewed on YouTube at http://youtu.be/eL3kbkGfYjM. A high resolution version of the video may be downloaded at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/
A VIDEO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (PSA) done in a B-movie spoof approach, titled “Attack of the Zebra Mussels!,” can be viewed on YouTube athttp://youtu.be/-NJKYlrqcXw. A longer, previous PSA with more detail about zebra mussels and how to stop their spread is also available athttp://youtu.be/E4Y5ILzKgHg.