We have just been informed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) that they are trying to educate the public about the threat from zebra mussels and how the public can help in preventing the spread.
Just a few years ago the authorities thought that the zebra mussels which came to the USA on ships in the late 1990s would not spread from the Lake Erie area to the East Texas area. But now the TPWD is growing more and more concerned that this invasive species may be able to spread further than projected.
In 2009 the zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Texoma. Now they are in the Dallas area. Lake Ray Roberts, Lewisville and Benbrook are infected. Just this week the zebra mussels were discovered just 50 miles north of Austin.
Previously it was thought that the zebra mussels couldn’t adapt to our higher water temperatures. Evidently they have adapted as they spread. They were discovered in Lake Benbrook recently which has surface temperatures of 90 degrees F. or more. Obviously, they are adapting to higher water temperatures. The zebra mussels are filter feeders. Basically, they filter water through their system which eliminates nutrients like Zooplankton and Zoë plankton which the shad feed on. This in turn creates a very clear water environment. Clear water is not a problem, but the removal of nutrients in our area lakes spells disaster for the shad and minnows. This in turn will affect the growth of bass and other fresh water species.
It gets worse. In addition to removing the plankton that shad and small fish eat, zebra mussels are very sharp and cut line, make swimming and wading impossible, and foul lower units.
Even if you don’t fish or swim, zebra mussels are a concern because they can foul water transmission pipes and prevent water from being moved from the lake to the water treatment plant. In Europe and Asia where the zebra mussels are from, the water supply have to maintain parallel pipe systems so one pipe can be in use while the other pipe is being cleaned out. Here in the states we don’t have parallel pipe systems. EVERYONE IS AFFECTED!
Richard Ott and his staff at TPWD conducted inspections for zebra mussels at Lake Jacksonville and other lakes in their district last week. Fortunately, all were negative – so far. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the Dallas area lakes. “In that area emergency regulations have been set into effect that require everyone to drain their live well, bilge, and any other part of a boat capable of holding water, and failure to do so can result in a ticket. We don’t want the problem here. So we have been posting signs to advise the public about how to clean, drain and dry their boats. These can be distributed at will.”
Jerry Miller can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org