Effective and Safe Decontamination for Underwater Inspection Equipment Exposed to Quagga and Zebra Mussels
What is the most effective and safest dreissenid mussel disinfection protocols for diving equipment?
State and federal regulations prohibit the transport of potentially live quagga or zebra mussel (including veligers) away from an infested dive site. Therefore, all exposed underwater dive gear must be treated on site after the completion of dive activities. Performing decontamination on-site in many dam locations present several problems due to their isolated locations. For example, there are no amenities nearby such as non-infested water, hot water, or municipal drains. It is also common practice of Reclamation dive team to rotate daily among different facilities and reservoirs to carry out mission-critical underwater facility reviews and structural surveys.
Since the planktonic mussel life stage (veligers) cannot be seen with the naked human eye and mussels can survive out of water for longer periods of time, the risk is high that Reclamation diving activities may be a transport vector for the spread of quagga and zebra mussels.
Need and Benefit
Need: Reclamation has continuing requirements for expert underwater engineering, geotechnical, and biological examinations and investigations of Reclamation-owned or contracted facilities and associated features; for inspection of underwater construction projects, facility foundations, and geologic conditions; for investigation of fisheries facilities and aquatic environments; for underwater specification review; for safe-practices review of potential and actual contract diving operations; and for other program-related underwater services. To meet these requirements, technically oriented Reclamation Underwater Inspection Teams have been established to provide this expertise in a concise, scientific manner. The underwater inspection teams consist of Reclamation employees performing collateral duties. There is a high risk of diving activities becoming transport vectors for dreissenid mussels among Reclamation reservoirs that have not yet been infested.
Benefit: A disinfection protocol that most effectively and safely render underwater diving equipment free of dreissenid mussels would allow Reclamation to accomplish these mission-required underwater activities without fear of transporting mussels to pristine reservoirs and water bodies.
Urgency: Most introduced species are relatively benign and have very little impact on the operations and maintenance of Reclamation facilities.
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