LAKE POWELL (News4Utah)- Officials from the Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR) say they have seen a significant increase in boats infested with quagga mussels compared to last year.
“The quagga situation at Lake Powell has worsened. If you boat at Lake Powell it’s very likely your boat has quagga mussels on it,” said Aquatic Invasive species program Coordinator Nathan Owens.
This year Owens says more than 100 mussel-infested boats have been quarantined. In 2017 there were only 10 boats quarantined, officials say.
“With more mussels in the lake and lower water levels more boaters have mussels attached to their vessels than in past years. Our techs are regularly finding them on and in boats that have only been in Lake Powell for a day or two — something we haven’t experienced in the past.”
Boaters that visit another lake or reservoir after visiting Lake Powell will have their boat inspected again. If mussels are found the boat will be decontaminated and quarantined, if necessary.
Why are quagga mussels an issue?
- They impact fisheries by removing large amounts of beneficial plankton from the water, making this important food source unavailable to other aquatic organisms. This impacts the entire food chain all they way up to top fish predator, like bass.
- They pollute shorelines and ruin beaches by covering them with their sharp shells. The shells eventually decompose, releasing a foul odor.
- They damage boats and equipment by using their byssal threads to attach to these areas. They are famous for clogging engine intakes on boat motors, causing a great deal of damage, and sometimes even ruining motors.
- They clog water delivery pipes, resulting in millions of dollars in extra maintenance costs that eventually are passed on to taxpayers.
For questions about boating on Lake Powell and more information on quagga mussels click here.