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Alien invasion growing at Lake Powell

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah)  Boaters beware if you’re heading out this Memorial Day weekend. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has 4 mandatory inspection stations up and running and you must stop or face a fine.

“You’re required to stop,” says DWR Captain Mitch Lane “What we’re doing is inspecting watercraft for mussels.”

He’s talking guagga mussels that continue to spread in Lake Powell. Boats that haven’t been properly cleaned, drained and dried are mostly responsible for transferring the invasive creatures to other bodies of water.

The four inspection stations are on I-15 northbound entering the state near St. George, Highway 40 entering Daniels Canyon, and both the Garden City and Laketown entrances to Bear Lake.

Also all watercraft leaving Bullfrog Marina at Lake Powell heading for Hanksville will be pulled over. Captain Lane says they’ll be making sure operators “clean and drain their boat before they leave Lake Powell. Then they must remove the plug from the boat and leave it removed while the boat is in transit.”

The goal is to keep the mussel from spreading to other bodies of water because they are impossible to kill once they invade a large reservoir or lake.

“They’re very prolific,” says Lane. And that’s an understatement. There are billions already in Lake Powell. Scientists claim a male and female can produce a million eggs each month.

The problem is two-fold. First they ruin the ecosystem. Captain Lane says “they feed on plankton. So they basically eliminate the food chain from the bottom up.”

Then they keep spreading from the lake causing massive damage to the nearby infrastructure. “Literally their shells will clog up structures, pipes all the water delivery infrastructures.” Replacing major water systems and lines could cost billions if the damage is bad enough.

Captain Lane says they can also destroy your boat by getting into the cooling system of the motor.

In 2014 a water sample detected the possibility of quagga mussels at Deer Creek Reservoir, but so far there’s been no more evidence of the damaging creatures there.

Lake Powell seems to be the only infected body of water in Utah and DWR officials want to keep it that way.

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