Ecologist Mark Anderson still sometimes tears up thinking about March 3, 2013, when an adult quagga mussel was discovered — the definitive sign of a possible aquatic apocalypse — clinging to a boat hauled from the waters of Lake Powell.
“We had finally lost the long-fought battle,” Anderson said.
The adult quagga mussel finding, coming less than a year after microscopic mussels were first spotted, marked the end of more than a decade of attempts to keep the invasive species from taking over Lake Powell and cued the beginning of a new fight. Click on the following paragraph to access the full story.
Organizations in Arizona, Utah and several other states are working together on containment efforts that include inspecting boats, educating boaters of the infestation, bolstering staff, levying costly fines to uncooperative boaters and investing in decontamination equipment. Decontamination units, basically trailers filled with high-tech equipment boasting $700,000 price tags, are now at major marinas. Fines vary, but can reach $5,000 for boaters who don’t comply with the inspection and decontamination process. All boats must be decontaminated when leaving and entering Lake Powell. Officials created a “clean, drain and dry” program to make sure a boat’s exterior and interior is completely dry before they go out on the water and once they return so the mussels aren’t transferred. Without water, the mussels have a short lifespan.