Safety, invasive species awareness urged at Lake Maloney, Sutherland Reservoir

August 27, 2012

Columbus, Neb. – A long, hot summer season comes to an end with the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.  And Nebraska Public Power District is asking those using Lake Maloney and Sutherland Reservoir for water activities to be safety conscious and aware of the potential for invasive species being introduced into these two bodies of water.

NPPD encourages those using the lakes to be safety conscious whether they are fishing, boating for recreational uses, or taking a plunge into the water. Following all water safety rules is encouraged by the utility in order to create a safe, fun, and enjoyable experience for everyone using the water.

At the same time, NPPD is asking boaters to take certain actions regarding zebra mussels that could be introduced into Lake Maloney or Sutherland Reservoir, particularly if a boat has been used in another state this summer. Zebra mussels can “hitchhike” from one body of water to another on boats and multiply at a rapid rate. They then attach themselves to pipes or other structures, clogging the ability to intake water into a facility, such as a water treatment plant or a power plant that utilize water from reservoirs, lakes, or rivers.

“Millions of dollars have been spent in other parts of the United States to unclog intake structures of zebra mussels,” NPPD Environmental Specialist Justin King explained. Invasive species introduced into local waters could have a negative impact on the operation of NPPD’s Gerald Gentleman Station at Sutherland Reservoir, the North Platte Hydroelectric Facility, and Cooper Nuclear Station along the Missouri River.

“There have been reports of these invasive species showing up in various bodies of water in some of our neighboring states, so we encourage boaters to follow some simple steps to help prevent the introduction of zebra mussels into the state,” King added.

NPPD recommends the most important way for boaters to address the spread of zebra mussels is to check their equipment for these aquatic hitchhikers and remove any visible mud, plants, fish, or animals from the boat. What may appear to be harmless species, such as the zebra mussels, have been known to travel in ballast water where they become easily transported between reservoirs and lakes by attaching to the boat.

Boaters should clean, dry, and drain all equipment that comes into contact with the water. If there is a place for water to collect, there is a chance that zebra mussels or other similar invasive species may be transported, including on boat trailers. Boaters should drain the bilges and live wells in their boats, and if unable to be drained, a cup of bleach can be added to kill any live mussels.

It is also a good idea to dry the boat for several days before its next use. If possible, power-wash the boat, motor, and trailer to scour off invisible juvenile mussels.

These tips for prevention and more are available through the Nebraska Invasive Species Project at http://snr.unl.edu/invasives/boater.htm.