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SEM Characterization of Drain Biofouling for Dreissenid Mussels

Project ID: 2427
Principal Investigator: Douglas Hurcomb
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Priority Area Assignments: 2013 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2013
Keywords: dreissenid mussel colonization, scanning electron microscope, relief drains, powerplant cooling systems

Research Question

The purposes of the research is to assess the types of biofilms and deposits associated with dense and sparse infestations of Dreissenid Mussels and investigate occurrences of inorganic and organic media in drains and water supply systems. The work would develop microscopic methods to characterize drain and service water deposits and substrates at dams and powerplants affected by Dreissenid Mussel colonization to assess and document the suitability of the drain environment for colonization. To develop enviromnental scanning electron microscopy techniques to document the inorganic and organic films and deposits in drains that influence mussel colonization and to provide additional information that can assist powerplant and facility managers with future infrastructure management decisions. Concomitantly, these methods will be applied to raw water samples collected where Dreissenid Mussels may be present, as a potential diagnostic tool for understanding conditions of settlement.

Need and Benefit

Biofouling due to the colonization of foundation drains and power plant water supply systems causes operational and dam safety problems. The research question addresses the aqueous and substrate environment in drains and pipes that are susceptible to biofouling.

Plans for initial biobox sampling are currently underway and will include major chemistry, bacterial presence and types, and Dreissenid mussel larvae presence. The use of the Scanning Electron Microscope and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy systems will provide image and elemental documentation and insights into biofilm substrate types effecting functional issues.

According to TSC Environmental Applications and Research Group scientists, veliger occurrence is prolific upstream of Parker Dam, with veligers observed over the full range of months when sampling has taken place. However, downstream of the Parker Dam the frequency and occurrence of veliger colonization is less dense. The cause of the reduction of colonization downstream may be significant and related to water quality, substrate quality, or other factors.

The developed methods will be applied to raw water samples collected where Dreissenid Mussels may be present and as a potential diagnostic tool for understanding conditions of settlement.

A summary report with results and recommendations for future data collection will be submitted at the conclusion of the sampling season to detail findings and to make recommendations. The final report will be completed by September 31, 2013.

Contributing Partners

None

Research Products

The research will develop a report on techniques to image and analyze drain substrates suitable for invasive mussel settlement using environmental SEM and EDS technology. The biobox experiments at Imperial Dam will provide media for study.

This information was last updated on November 27, 2014
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