Utah (ABC4) – Are you planning on heading out to Utah water bodies to boat this summer but worried about quagga mussels? Good news, there is a new method for decontaminating boats to remove the invasive species.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Clean Wake LLC, the National Park Service at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and other partnering agencies announced a new, first-of-its-kind dip tank method that will revolutionize boat decontamination in the fight against invasive quagga mussels.

The quagga mussel is a species of freshwater mussel with an average lifespan of three to five years. The floating mussels and mussel shells stick to boats as they are retrieved from the water at Lake Powell.

According to the DWR, the idea for this new decontamination method had been discussed internally within the DWR for nearly a decade but had remained an abstract concept until almost five years ago when Garrett Atwood — creator of the new patent-pending dip tank and founder of Clean Wake LLC took a boating trip to Lake Powell. 

“I was waiting in the quagga mussel inspection line with other boaters who were trying to leave Lake Powell,” Atwood shares. “I watched as the DWR staff worked in extreme heat to decontaminate boats of all shapes and sizes, many of which had intake systems that were far from standardized. It seemed like a time-consuming and challenging process, and I thought there had to be a better way.”

DWR says Atwood began a collaboration with the DWR aquatic invasive species team. After a year of engineering and fabricating, the dip tank was created, complete with a tank, pump house, and heating and filtration system.

SLIDESHOW: Lake Powell Dip Tank

Instead of requiring personnel to climb around and under boats to manually spray hot water during inspections and decontaminations, the dip tank allows boaters to back their watercraft into the 14-foot wide, 5-foot deep tank of 110-degree water to more effectively and thoroughly flush complex intake systems, the DWR shares.

“The dip tank includes built-in guiding tracks to help boaters back their watercraft into the tank. The filtration and pump system will turn over the water in the tank every two hours to keep it clean. The whole decontamination will only take about five minutes,” as stated in a press release sent to ABC4.

“This new system will be a tremendous asset in our efforts to stop the spread of invasive quagga mussels,” DWR Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Nate Owens shares. “It will involve decontaminating boats with complex systems much faster, will require less training for our staff, will be more effective at ridding complex systems of quagga mussels and will ensure less damage to boats. We are so grateful for the ingenuity of Clean Wake LLC, our partnership with various agencies and the legislative funding and support that have made this possible. This is the first time this method is being used anywhere in the U.S., and we are excited to partner with the National Park Service at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to create a better experience for boaters at Lake Powell.” 

The new dip tank will be utilized beginning this summer at Lake Powell and will be primarily used for wakeboard boats with complex systems, the DWR shares.