Boaters Key to Stopping Spread of Invasive Mussels

Media Contact: Jeffrey McCracken, 916-978-5100

For Release: May 20, 2008

The Bureau of Reclamation and multiple Federal, State, and local agencies urge boaters and watercraft users to help stop the spread of Quagga and Zebra mussels. Reclamation, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and many local authorities, have implemented a programs to educate the public about the spread of these harmful invasive species. Boaters can expect to see boat and trailer inspections at launches around the state.

Quagga mussels were first detected in the Colorado River system in January 2007 and were later found in San Diego and Riverside counties by state and local water agencies. Zebra mussels were found in Reclamation's San Justo Reservoir in San Benito County, about 40 miles southeast of San Jose in January 2008. This is the first time that these destructive Zebra mussel have been found in northern California waters.

Both mussels can attach to and damage boat trailers, cooling systems, boat hulls, and steering equipment. Mussels attached to watercraft or trailers can be transported and spread to other water bodies. Water in boat engines, bilges, live wells, and buckets can carry mussel larvae to other water bodies as well. Mussels are prolific breeders and attach themselves to hard and soft surfaces, such as boats and aquatic plants. Mussel infestation can potentially lead to the closure of boating in affected waterways, and their spread could result in millions of dollars in damage to water transport facilities.

Recreational boats and watercraft are the primary source of unintentional introduction of these mussels into lakes, rivers, and other waters. All boaters who access freshwater lakes or rivers should:

* Inspect all exposed surfaces -- small mussels feel like sandpaper to the touch;

* Wash the hull of each watercraft thoroughly, preferably with hot high-pressure water;

* Remove all plants and animal material, drain all water, and dry all areas; and,

* Wait at least 5 days between launches, and keep watercraft dry before re-launching.

These steps are designed to thwart the spread of mussels, safeguard boats, and preserve high quality fisheries. In addition, vehicles trailering watercraft north on Interstate 5 near Redding May 22-23, 2008, will be stopped for mandatory Quagga and Zebra mussel inspections by DFG from 2-8 p.m.

For more information on how you can help prevent the spread of Quagga and Zebra mussels, visit the DFG Web site at A toll-free number, 1-866-440-9530, has also been established for boaters and anyone involved with activities on lakes and rivers seeking information on these invasive and destructive species. The toll-free number is generally answered Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

Department of Fish & Game Website