Boaters urged to help prevent spread of damaging quagga mussels

Reservoirs along the Salt and Verde rivers so far have not been hit with major outbreaks of invasive quagga mussels that have been found elsewhere in the West, and SRP hopes to keep it that way.

In support of the statewide "Don't Move a Mussel" campaign, SRP is urging boaters who visit lakes on the Salt and Verde rivers or Lake Powell to take special precautions to keep the mussels from spreading.

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Unwelcome visitors

Quagga mussels, which have caused millions of dollars in damage in the Great Lakes region, were first discovered at Lake Mead in January 2007. Since then they have been confirmed in Lakes Mohave, Havasu and Pleasant and have shown rapid population growth, becoming a serious maintenance concern for facility operators.

Because mussels attach to hard surfaces such as concrete and pipes, they can affect SRP canals, aqueducts, water intakes, dams and power plants that rely on water for cooling, resulting in significantly increased maintenance costs for those facilities. The mussel can also cause damage to watercraft and affect lake ecosystems and fisheries.

Keeping quaggas out of reservoirs

Stepping up the "Don’t Move a Mussel" campaign to limit the spread of invasive quagga mussels in Arizona’s waterways, SRP is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation to place large signs at the chain of lakes on the Salt and Verde rivers to remind boaters to keep their mussel-infested vessels away.

More than 60 signs – 18 inches wide by 26 inches long – are being installed at marinas and boat launch ramps at Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon and Saguaro lakes on the Salt River and at Bartlett and Horseshoe lakes on the Verde River. Paper versions of the signs have also been made available to marinas as well as other recreational locations across the Valley and state.

The signs, designed and printed by SRP, include a photo of adult mussels on a boat's propeller at Lake Mead on the Colorado River. SRP delivered the signs to the Forest Service, which will hang them in coordination with the Tonto Basin Ranger District, the Mesa Ranger District and the Cave Creek Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest. The Bureau of Reclamation contributed by purchasing heavy-duty stakes and the mounting hardware to help hang the signs.

What to do

Boaters should take the following steps each time they visit a waterway anywhere in Arizona:

Before launching into the water:

    Either:

  • Thoroughly dry the boat, engine, trailer, livewell and bilge spaces
  • or:

  • Power-wash the hull of the boat and its trailer
  • and:

  • Flush bilge spaces with 140-degree water or household vinegar

Before leaving the water:

  • Drain the water from the boat, live-bait well and the lower unit
  • Clean and remove all plant and animal material from the hull and trailer
  • Dry the boat and inspect all exposed surfaces

Boaters are urged to wait five days before launching their boats at another location. This is especially critical for boaters using Lake Pleasant or any waters along the lower Colorado River who also are planning to enjoy the Salt or Verde reservoirs or Lake Powell. This five-day waiting period will aid in killing microscopic quagga larvae.

For more information

Please visit the Arizona Department of Fish and Game web site for more information about the mussel problem. To find out more about preventing the spread of the quaggas, visit ProtectYourWaters.net or 100thmeridian.org.

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