DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – They’re tiny aquatic life forms that stick to any smooth surface, and they can gum up boat engines or even huge motors at municipal water pumping stations. They’re Zebra Mussels, and while state officials originally worried they’d jump to Lake Lavon, Dallas city officials confirm at least one has found its way to Lake Ray Hubbard.
Joel Weiner normally quarantines boats from Lake Texoma when they come to Chandler’s Landing at Lake Ray Hubbard. But the marina manager says one got past his operation for about a week until it needed repairs. That’s when they found the tiny Zebra Mussels. He worries that if there’s one, there may be more. “One female Zebra Mussel—a million eggs a year; 400,000 reach adult. Do the math,” he tells CBS 11 News.
State wildlife officials scoured the nearby lake bottom and found another one. “Between my maintenance dock and my public ramp dock,” says Weiner, pointing out to the water, “they were about in the middle when they popped up with the Zebra Mussel.”
Fortunately it was a male according to Dallas Water Utilities, which owns the lake. State officials had been worried about Lake Lavon, since it’s partly fed by Lake Texoma, where Zebra Mussels already thrive. The North Texas Municipal Water District, which uses Texoma for about 22% of its water, cut off that source into Lake Lavon as a precaution to avoid a Zebra Mussel invasion. But since that puts strain on the rest of the District’s water system, it has gone into a Stage-1 Drought Prevention Level and urges customers to be careful how they use their water.
Zebra Mussels won’t effect the quality or safety of a water source, but they can wreak havoc by potentially attaching themselves to anything they touch. Now the district and state officials urge boat owners to take extra precautions moving watercraft out of Texoma to other locations in Texas. “It’s a “clean, drain, dry” procedure,” says TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Regional Director Brian Van Zee. “Take a look at the boat,” he says of the cleaning step. “Take a look at the trailer, pull of any vegetation, mud or debris.” Moving on to the drain step, “We want to make sure that boaters are taking and pulling the plugs out of the bottoms of their boats and drain all the water out of it.” Finally, he says, “then you go ahead and let the boat sit and dry.”
While a visual inspection is a good start, but that doesn’t mean a boat owner is home free because larvae could still catch a ride on algae, for instance, or in pooled water that can be found in cracks and crevices in the engine, transom, or other areas. Best bet is to air a boat out for a week or have it commercially cleaned. With summer holidays coming, boaters can’t be too careful, according to state officials.
For tips on how boaters and others can fight the Zebra Mussel invasion in Texas, go to www.texasinvasives.org or www.100thMeridian.org or the North Texas Municipal Water District website at www.ntmwd.com.