These mussels clog water systems, impact the environment and can cost billions of dollars in damage and control wherever they spread. The meeting forged a uniform approach to education, inspection and regulations to encourage recreational boat inspections in the West to prevent the spread of invasive zebra or Quagga mussels.
Reports from U.S. Geological Survey state that in January 2007, populations of Quagga mussels were discovered in Lake Mead and in May 2011 evidence of Quagga mussels was found in Lahontan and Rye Patch reservoirs. According to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District there have been no Quagga mussels found in Lake Tahoe. However, they have stopped several boats with Quagga mussels prior to launching in 2012. These boats have been fully decontaminated prior to launching and pose very little threat to Lake Tahoe’s waters.
Within the last few years, isolated infestations of both species, which can survive for days to weeks out of water – most likely transported on recreational boats and trailers – have begun to show up in Western recreational and irrigation waters in California and Arizona.
The Phoenix meeting looked at the impacts of invasive mussels on local economies and infrastructure, the challenges to effective control, and a 100-plus-year-old federal law – the Lacey Act – which could give states a tool for approaching the problem.
Sessions included discussion of state authority to stop boats for inspection, quarantine and decontamination, what programs and laws have been successful in Western states, public attitudes about invasive species education and enforcement and how cash-strapped states can fund such programs.