Nebraska boaters: please “clean, drain, and dry”

May 23, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – Invasive species may sound like a zoo exhibit, but for recreationalists, municipalities and power companies, such aquatic life can wreak havoc. They can cause serious problems when they infest rivers, lakes, and water systems used by power companies, cities, and boaters.

Vacations have started, and the Nebraska Public Power District, in conjunction with the Nebraska Game & Parks, has a request for recreationalists planning to enjoy several days on the state’s waterways: be aware of invasive species, such as zebra mussels and Asiatic clams, which can attach themselves to boat motors, bait buckets, etc., and make their way from one body of water to another.

Once transferred, they can attach themselves to pipes or other structures, damaging boat motors and reducing the ability to draw water into a facility, like a water treatment or power plant, which uses water for its operations. In addition, zebra mussels multiply at a rapid rate. An adult female zebra mussel can release up to a million eggs in a year, compounding the problem.

For NPPD, aquatic invasives could impact the operations of Gerald Gentleman Station at Sutherland Reservoir, the North Platte Hydroelectric Facility on the reservoir of Lake Maloney, and Cooper Nuclear Station along the Missouri River.

“Millions of dollars have been spent in other parts of the United States at similar facilities to unclog intake structures of invasive species,” NPPD Environmental Manager Joe Citta explained.  “We have been fortunate so far, but we need boaters to be aware of the potential for aquatic hitchhikers.”

The best way for boaters to address the spread of zebra mussels is to check their boats and equipment for these invasive species and remove any visible mud, plants, fish, or animals.

Boaters should clean, drain, and dry all equipment that comes into contact with the water, including trailers. If there is a place for water to collect, there is a chance zebra mussels or other similar invasive species may be transported. Boaters should drain bilges and live wells in their boats, power-wash the boat, motor, and trailer to scour off invisible juvenile mussels, and if unable to be drained, use a cup of bleach to kill any live mussels. It is also a good idea to dry the boat for several days before its next use.

These tips for prevention are available through the Nebraska Invasive Species Project at http://neinvasives.com/ and more information can be found on the Nebraska Game & Parks website, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/conservation/Invasive-Species/index.asp.

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