Quagga and Zebra Mussels

Two species of dreissenid mussels, Dreissena polymorpha (zebra mussel) and Dreissena rostriformis “bugensis” (quagga mussel), have become established in freshwater lakes, reservoirs, and rivers in the United States. Invasive dreissenid mussels pose significant challenges for Reclamation and all agencies and industries that manage water. Invasive mussels are prolific breeders and settle on or within water facility infrastructure such as water intakes, gates, diversion screens, hydropower equipment, pumps, pipelines, and boats. Infested water and hydropower infrastructure can fail or choke off water transmissions. Invasive mussels negatively impact the natural ecology, which can be detrimental to native and endangered species, including native fisheries.

Maintaining and operating water supply and delivery facilities, water recreation, and other water dependent industries and economies in mussel infested water bodies are dramatically more expensive and complex. Public recreation may also be severely impacted by mussel infestations, from shell fragments degrading swim beaches to increased requirements and cost for boaters to have their watercraft inspected and decontaminated, and potential impacts on populations of game fish.

Safeguarding the West

In 2017, the Department of the Interior released a package of actions and initiatives developed through collaboration with western governors and federal, state and Tribal agencies to protect areas in the West from the economic and ecological threats posed by invasive mussels.

More than 70 federal, state and tribal entities came together to develop 41 action items to develop the document, Safeguarding the West from Invasive Species.

In 2018, a progress report was issued that highlights efforts since the initial report was released to prevent, contain, and control invasive mussels in the West. This includes investments of an additional $1 million in Fiscal Year 2017 and $4 million by the Bureau of Reclamation in 2018.


  • News

    Bureau of Reclamation awards $185,000 grant to Colorado Parks & Wildlife for enhancement of aquatic species data sharing system

    Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman announced the award of a $185,000 grant to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife for enhancement and further roll-out of a watercraft inspection and decontamination database. Federal and state inspectors use the database to track watercraft decontamination activities occurring at lakes, reservoirs and related waterways. These watercraft inspection and decontamination activities are being conducted to help prevent the spread of quagga and zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species. Read More →

  • News

    Bureau of Reclamation allocates more than $4 million to combat quagga and zebra mussels in the West

    The Bureau of Reclamation has allocated more than $4 million for federal, state, and tribal projects to prevent, contain, control, and monitor invasive quagga and zebra mussels in the West. This funding advances actions announced by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in June 2017 as part of the initiative called "Safeguarding the West: Actions to Strengthen Federal, State, and Tribal Coordination to Address Invasive Mussels." This funding builds on $1 million in 2017 to support initiatives by the federal government, as well as work by the Western Governors’ Association, western states, and tribes to protect western ecosystems, water infrastructure, and hydroelectric facilities from invasive mussels. Read More →

  • Research

    Spring 2018 Knowledge Stream - Invasive Mussels

    (Spring 2018) Welcome to the Spring 2018 edition focusing on better detection, monitoring, and control of invasive quagga and zebra mussels. This research category is one of the Science and Technology Program’s priorities and supports the Department of the Interior's initiative to protect Western U.S. ecosystems and hydroelectric facilities from the effects of invasive mussels. Over the last ten years since the discovery of quagga mussels in Lake Mead on the Colorado River in January 2007, Reclamation has implemented a coordinated response through a Reclamation-wide Mussels Task Force. The Research and Development Office, through its Science and Technology Program, played a key role in this response and continues to do so by supporting research efforts. Read More →

  • Fact Sheet

    Environmental DNA (eDNA) and monitoring for invasive species fact sheet

    Environmental DNA (eDNA) refers to DNA present in an environmental sample, as differentiated from traditional sampling of DNA directly from an intact organism. eDNA frequently is thought of as DNA in tissue and cells that have been shed by an organism, but can also refer to DNA within an intact organism (usually microscopic), if that organism is collected in the environmental sample. For eDNA analysis, samples are collected from the environment and DNA is then extracted from the full sample or some fraction of it. Read More →

Last Updated: 9/26/18