Control Measures

Controlling mussel infestations in water distribution systems for municipal, agricultural and industrial supply maintains facility operation, reduces populations, and reduces the likelihood of infestation spreading to new areas. A variety of management techniques are possible, including settlement prevention, desiccation, mechanical removal, oxidizing biocides, thermal, and biological control.

Tools for effective, cost-efficient, and ecologically sound quagga and zebra mussel control in the West are limited. Most containment and control technologies were developed for closed-water systems. It is very costly and difficult to prevent the spread through the large water distribution systems that exist in the West, including trans-mountain diversions that move water across the continental divide. Additional tools are needed to prevent invasive mussel movement through water delivery systems and for open water systems.

Containment can be difficult as the volume of water to be treated is large, the environmental impacts of the treatment must be acceptable, and the costs must not be prohibitive. Development of control options has been tied closely to research and remains an ongoing effort at Reclamation. Reclamation is currently working on developing control methods for critical submerged structures at water delivery and hydropower facilities and for control of mussel populations in reservoirs. Research has focused on methods that are cost effective, do not impede water flow, do not require discharge permitting, and are species specific.


  • The Research and Development Office, Technical Service Center and contract researchers have worked closely with the Lower Colorado Dam’s Office to develop and test a variety of control methods. This document is a compilation and summary of the research Reclamation had conducted up to this point for the control of invasive mussels at hydropower facilities. Compendium of Reclamation Mussel Control Research for Hydropower Facilities (1.32 MB)
  • Available Methods for Invasive Mussel Control
    This report comprises a brief overview of the status of the mussel infestation, Reclamation’s actions to minimize invasive mussel impacts, and information regarding available methods to control invasive mussels at impacted Reclamation facilities. The various methods can generally be categorized as: chemical and non-chemical methods, which include pesticides, coatings, ultraviolet (UV) light treatment, filtration, operational, and mechanical (removal or cleaning). Read Report

  • S&T Research: Invasive Mussels
Last Updated: 3/9/20