Zebra and Quagga Mussels: Controlling Quagga and Zebra Mussels in Reclamation Facilities with Bacteria (_Pseudomonas fluorescens_ [Pf])

Project ID: 7017
Principal Investigator: Fred Nibling
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Priority Area Assignments: 2010 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels), 2011 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2010
Keywords: None

Research Question

The research question being asked is:

* How effective is a dead bacterial product of Pf for controlling either attached quagga and zebra mussels or for prevention of settlement of new mussels in water supply lines in hydropower and pumping plant cooling water systems in Reclamation facilities?

Related questions are:

* Can this technology be effective on other components in Reclamation facilities such as fire protection systems, gates, trashracks, marinas, intakes, pipelines, irrigations systems, fish screens, etc?

* What are the most effective treatment/application methods for this material under operational conditions found in Reclamation facilities?

* Are there environmental conditions(e.g., water quality, temperature, etc) which affect the performance of this material?

* Can this material be used in environmentally sensitive areas (e.g., drinking water) and with endangered or at-risk fish species?

Need and Benefit

Zebra and quagga mussels are invasive, freshwater, bivalve mollusks that firmly attach to solid underwater structures and other surfaces. Originally from Eurasia, these mussels were first introduced in the Great Lakes in the mid-1980s and since then have spread to the Western United States. Adult quagga mussels were discovered in Lakes Mead, Mojave, and Havasu on the Colorado River in early 2007. Since then, populations have exploded and are now impacting Hoover, Davis, and Parker Dams. In early 2008, larval zebra mussels were confirmed to be present in Pueblo Reservoir in Colorado and adult zebra mussels were found in San Justo Reservoir in California--which has since become heavily infested. More recently, both zebra and quagga larvae have been detected in several other Reclamation reservoirs in Colorado, most notably those of the Colorado-Big Thompson project. In addition to California, Nevada, and Colorado, mussels are present in the Reclamation states of Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Utah. Annually, a single female mussel is capable of producing hundreds of thousands of eggs. This leads to the production of microscopic larvae (veligers) that are transported freely in the water column. Once they reach their settling stage , they attach to hard surfaces and continue to grow.

Mussel infestations are a growing concern among water management facilities throughout the Western United States. For water resources infrastructure, flow restriction and blockage are the foremost concerns because mussel infestations reduce pumping and conveyance capacities and threaten water delivery and hydropower reliability. Trashracks at Hoover and Parker Dams are becoming heavily colonized, nearing 50 percent closure. Cooling systems at all three lower Colorado River hydropower dams are becoming increasingly challenged, requiring more frequent shutdowns for unscheduled maintainance and cleaning. Other impacts to facilities include enhanced corrosion of poorly protected metallic surfaces, damage to coatings, and abrasion to precision equipment surfaces. Zebra and quagga mussels can clog intakes, trashracks, strainers, pipes, fire control systems, cooling water systems, and fish screens, resulting in significant costs to protect water and hydropower systems.

While conventional chemical treatment (e.g., chlorine) has been shown to be somewhat effective in the Eastern United States, it is costly, often requires discharge permitting, and can result in environmentally adverse byproducts and other impacts. Research of Pf for mussel control offers environmentally friendly, innovative treatment method without these drawbacks.

Invasive mussels have an enormous capacity to filter plankton from water and out-compete other filter feeders. Impacts also include alterations in aquatic ecosystems, thus adversely affecting native organisms and endangered species. This filtering also increases water clarity resulting in the potential for significantly increased aquatic weed loads that can also impact water diversion, distribution, and hydropower operations and maintenance. In essence, zebra and quagga mussels can harm almost every aspect of water and related resources. Furthermore, western environmental conditions appear to be very favorable for mussel growth and spread.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Pseudomonas fluorescens: A Dead Bacteria to Control Invasive Mussels (final, PDF, 73KB)
By Fred Nibling
Publication completed on September 30, 2010

This bulletin summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20