WHICH LAKE IS LAT­EST VIC­TIM OF ZEBRA MUSSELS

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Wil­son md­wil­son@states­man.com

Texas Parks and Wildlife Depart­ment bi­ol­o­gists have con­firmed that Lake Ge­orge­town in Wil­liamson County is “fully in­fested” with zebra mussels af­ter find­ing an es­tab­lished, re­pro­duc­ing pop­u­la­tion of the in­va­sive species dur­ing test­ing in late Oc­to­ber and early Novem­ber.

Zebra mussels — which have been known to clog pipes and ma­chin­ery, caus­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in dam­age in lakes around the coun­try — al­ready had been spot­ted this sum­mer in the High­land Lakes — Lake Travis in June and Lake Austin in Au­gust.

Au­thor­i­ties said bi­ol­o­gists found zebra mus­sel lar­vae in Lake Ge­orge­town dur­ing rou­tine wa­ter sam­pling Oct. 27 and dis­cov­ered young, set­tled mussels along the lake’s shore­line Nov. 6.

“This is very un­for­tu­nate news be­cause as re­cently as spring 2017 all rou­tine plank­ton sam­ples have tested neg­a­tive for zebra mus­sel lar­vae and we hadn’t found any ju­ve­niles or adults,” said Brian Van Zee, re­gional di­rec­tor of in­land fish­eries for Texas Parks and Wildlife. “It just goes to show how rapidly zebra mussels can col­o­nize and estab­lish them­selves in our lakes once they are in­tro­duced.”

Lake Ge­orge­town, a 1,297-acre body of wa­ter just north­west of Ge­orge­town on the North Fork of the San Gabriel River, is con­trolled by the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers. State fish­eries bi­ol­o­gists plan to work with the Corps and the Bra­zos River Au­thor­ity to put up warn­ing signs and watch

for the po­ten­tial spread of zebra mussels — par­tic­u­larly down­stream at Granger Lake.

Au­thor­i­ties on Mon­day also an­nounced that a fourth Texas reser­voir this year, 90,000-acre Lake Liv­ingston north of Hous­ton on the Trin­ity River, has been clas­si­fied as in­fested. Liv­ingston had been clas­si­fied as “pos­i­tive” with mul­ti­ple de­tec­tions of zebra mussels.

The statewide to­tal of zebra mus­sel-in­fested lakes is 13.

“Boaters can help slow the spread of zebra mussels by tak­ing the proper steps to clean, drain and dry all boating equip­ment be­fore leav­ing the boat ramp,” Van Zee said.

Texas law pro­hibits the pos­ses­sion or trans­porta- tion of zebra mussels, dead or alive. Boaters are re­quired to drain all wa­ter from their boat (pow­ered or un­pow­ered) and on­board re­cep­ta­cles be­fore leav­ing or ap­proach­ing a body of fresh wa­ter, Parks and Wildlife offi- cials said.

State parks of­fi­cials said zebra mussels can cover shore­line rocks and lit­ter beaches with sharp shells, clog pub­lic-wa­ter in­takes and dam­age boats and mo­tors left in in­fested waters.

The small, ra­zor-sharp in­va­sive species with ori­gins in east­ern Europe has been spread­ing across the United States since 1988, when the first es­tab­lished pop­u­la­tion was found be­tween Lake Huron and Lake Erie, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Fish and Wild- life Ser­vice.

A re­port pro­duced by the Idaho Aquatic Nui­sance Spe- cies Task Force in 2009 said con­gres­sional re­searchers found that zebra mussels clog­ging in­dus­trial pipes in the Great Lakes cost the power in­dus­try there about $3.1 bil­lion from 1993 through 1999. Costs from other af­fected in­dus­tries in the area to­taled roughly $5 bil­lion, the re­port said.

It took more than two decades, but in 2009, the first zebra mussels in Texas were found on Lake Tex­oma. Other Texas lakes with mus­sel in­fes­ta­tions in­clude Lake Bel­ton, Canyon Lake, Lewisville Lake, Ea­gle Moun­tain Lake and Lake Bridge­port.

TAMIR KALIFA / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

State parks of­fi­cials said zebra mussels can cover shore­line rocks and lit­ter beaches with sharp shells, clog pub­lic-wa­ter in­takes and dam­age boats and mo­tors left in in­fested waters. There are 13 zebra mus­sel-in­fested lakes statewide.

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