Reclamation's Invasive Mussel Research Laboratory Awarded Colorado Governor's Award for High Impact Research

Media Contact: Peter Soeth, 303-445-3615

For Release: October 09, 2012

DENVER – The Bureau of Reclamation's Invasive Mussel Research Laboratory in Denver, Colo., has been selected by CO-Labs to receive its 2012 Governor's Award for High Impact Research. The lab was recognized for its advances in the early detection of invasive zebra and quagga mussels and evaluation of potential control methods.

"Invasive species, particularly zebra and quagga mussels, have the potential to impact ecosystems and restrict the ability of Reclamation and other entities to deliver water and generate hydropower," said Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. "Detecting their presence as early as possible is key to providing Reclamation and its partners the greatest lead time for proper mitigations to be put in place."

Reclamation began monitoring its reservoirs soon after adult mussels were detected in Lake Mead and the lower Colorado River system. The early detection of mussels involves taking water samples and then testing those samples for the presence of microscopic mussel larva. The tests start by using microscopes and polarized light. If mussel larvae are seen, the samples are then verified using a very high power scanning electron microscope, Polymerase Chain Reaction testing – a type of DNA test – followed by gene sequencing.

Since Reclamation began testing, it has tested water from 420 reservoirs throughout the western states. These water bodies include Reclamation reservoirs, other federal reservoirs and non-federal water bodies. If a water body is found to have mussel larva, Reclamation notifies the respective state of the findings.

"Early detection also gives reservoir managers the opportunity to implement additional public education, boat inspections and cleaning programs that may prevent further introduction of mussels and reduce the chances of an infestation," said Curt Brown, Reclamation's Research Director.

In addition to early detection, Reclamation is conducting research on potential control measures. These measures studied help Reclamation’s water projects deal with the presence of mussels and help them to keep delivering water and generating hydropower. These measures include ballast filters, ultraviolet lights and various surface coatings to prevent mussels and larva from settling on facility infrastructure or to make it easier for mussels to be removed once they do attach.

Reclamation will receive the 2012 Governor's Award for High-Impact Research at a ceremony on October 25 at the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building, University of Colorado, Boulder, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Reclamation's lab is one of six federal labs in Colorado to be recognized.

To learn more about Reclamation's invasive mussel program, please visit

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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:

Invasive Mussels Website