Columbus, Neb. – The end of summer is fast approaching with Labor Day a few days away. One last major weekend for boaters. One more weekend where zebra mussels can get a lift from one location to infiltrate another body of water, with power utilities facing potentially costly mitigation and clean-up fees.
“It may be Labor Day weekend but the time of year does not matter for zebra mussels,” said Justin King, environmental specialist with Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD). “Zebra mussels transported from one lake to another can cause major problems, such as what is occurring at Glen Cunningham Lake in Omaha.” Cunningham is now shut down for boating after it was found that zebra mussels had made their way into the lake.
“We are encouraging everyone who enjoys boating to clean, drain and dry their watercraft (boats, canoes, jet skis, etc.) when using local lakes and rivers or any bodies of water out of state,” added King.
NPPD and the Nebraska Invasive Species Program recommends the following:
- 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 recommended 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 NPPD? The District uses water for 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 maintain low cost, reliable electricity rather than spending ratepayers’ money to control the species.
An example of costs for removing zebra mussels is the D.C. Cook Nuclear Power Station, located along Lake Michigan, which annually spends $1 million per year on this effort. Since entering the Great Lakes in ship ballast water in 1988, it’s estimated the zebra mussels have been responsible for $5 billion in damages and cleanup costs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
“We have been fortunate over the past few years that NPPD has not been impacted at any of our power plants, but boaters need to be aware of the potential of unknowingly transporting invasive aquatic hitchhikers,” King explained.
Clean. Drain. Dry. Three simple tasks to prevent the movement of zebra mussels.