Colorado River Alliance Seeks Plan for Invasive Zebra Mussels

The Colorado River Alliance hosted a presentation this month about the ongoing threat of invasive zebra mussels, which have been found in Lake Austin, Lake Travis, and in Lady Bird Lake. The group held a live presentation online from the Austin Board of REALTORS®. Experts from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Lower Colorado River Authority participated in the presentation and forum, which was geared toward homeowners and lake users.

The high-producing zebra mussels species was discovered last summer, and, while it is not believed they can be eradicated, the group hopes to mitigate the environmental damage. Lake Austin and Lake Travis are classified as infested, while Lady Bird Lake is classified as suspect.

“Prevention is really the only tool that we have to combat zebra mussels because once they’re in a lake, there is no silver bullet,” said Texas Parks & Wildlife Aquatic Invasive Species Team Leader Monica McGarrity. “There is mitigation that can be done to deter these impacts but nothing we can do to get rid of them.”

Zebra mussels mainly are spread by boat. According to a Texas Parks and Wildlife press release, zebra mussels “can harm native freshwater mussels and other aquatic species, affect water clarity and cause harmful algal blooms, cover shoreline rocks and litter beaches with sharp shells, clog water intakes, damage or increase maintenance on hydroelectric and other facilities using raw surface water, and damage boats and motors left in infested waters.”

Additional speakers included Stephen Davis, an LCRA biologist who leads monitoring efforts across the Colorado River basin, and John Higley, CEO and Principal Scientist at Environmental Quality Operations, a start-up that is developing new technologies to help address zebra mussels.

Listen to the June 15, 2018 presentation on the Colorado River Alliance Facebook page. Read more: Established, Reproducing Population of Zebra Mussels Found in Lake Austin.