A big problem in a little shell…

May 25, 2017

Columbus, Neb. – It’s a problem spreading into lakes and rivers across the Midwest and into Nebraska… and the public can help stop it. Zebra mussels, which look like snails or clams, are small but destructive. They damage boats, clog water intakes and impact the environment of lakes and rivers where they live.

Nebraska Public Power District wants to alert boaters of this issue and prevent the spread of this invasive species.

Zebra mussels multiply quickly and, while only the size of a fingernail individually; they attach in groups to solid objects in the water and cause big problems. They have caused millions of dollars in damage to water systems and fisheries, and have been found in recent years in lakes and rivers in and around Nebraska.

That’s why it is important, as the summer boating season begins, to prevent the spread of zebra mussels by following a few simple steps.

“Think don’t move a mussel” says NPPD Environmental Manager Joe Citta.  “Zebra mussels spread by attaching to a boat and hitching a ride to the next body of water. Their microscopic larvae can survive in water left in a boat, live well, or bait bucket.

The Nebraska Invasive Species Program recommends all boaters clean, drain and dry.

  • Clean your boat to remove all visible plants, animals, fish and mud from the boat, trailer or other equipment and dispose of the debris in a suitable trash container or on dry land. Power washing the boat and trailer is another option.
  • Drain water from the boat, motor, live wells, ballast tanks and any other equipment holding water. If draining water is not an option, using a cup of diluted bleach will kill zebra mussels.
  • Dry your boat, trailer, and all equipment completely before arriving at the next launch ramp to go boating or fishing.

Why is this important to Nebraska Public Power District?  NPPD uses water in the generation of electricity at several locations including Gerald Gentleman Station by the Sutherland Reservoir, at the North Platte Hydroelectric Plant, and at Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville along the Missouri River. Keeping these aquatic invasive species at bay and preventing clogging of intake lines helps provide low cost, reliable electricity rather than spending ratepayers’ money to control the species.

“We have been fortunate over the past few years that we have not been impacted at any of our power plants, but we need boaters to be aware of the potential of unknowingly transporting invasive aquatic hitchhikers,” Citta explained.

Tips for preventing zebra mussels being introduced into Nebraska bodies of water are available through the Nebraska Invasive Species Program at www.neinvasives.com.

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