Boaters and Anglers Urged to Help Curb Spread of Zebra Mussels from Lake Texoma

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Invasive species can damage fisheries, boats, water treatment plants and pipelines

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ATHENS—Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) officials are asking all users of Lake Texoma to assist in stopping the spread of invasive zebra mussels to other water bodies in Texas and Oklahoma.

“Zebra mussels have become well established in Lake Texoma after having been introduced into the lake by boats trailered in from other states,” said Brian Van Zee, regional director for TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division.

In addition to being found in Lake Texoma, zebra mussels have been introduced into lakes in the Arkansas River drainage in Oklahoma.

“Zebra mussels have the ability to attach to any hard surface left in the water—boat motors, docks, pipes and even cans and bottles,” Van Zee continued. “The larval stage of zebra mussels can also be carried in water left in livewells or bait buckets.”

Boats being transported from Lake Texoma to other water bodies pose the greatest threat of spreading zebra mussels to other water bodies. At present the only way to deal with that is for boat owners to be responsible and to inspect, clean, drain and dry their boats before moving them from Lake Texoma to another lake.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is asking anyone transporting a vessel that has been used on Lake Texoma to another water body to take the following precautions. (1) Clean all vegetation, mud, algae and other debris from the boat and trailer. (2) Drain all water from the motor as well as the livewell, bilge, bait buckets and any other compartments or systems that hold water. (3) Dry the vessel and associated equipment for a minimum of 7 to 10 days during the months of May through October or for 15 to 20 days from November through April. These drying times are approximations, and conditions such as cooler air temperatures, higher humidity and whether or not the vessel is kept in dry storage should be considered. These are the easiest preventive measures that boat owners can do to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels.

However, boats and other vessels that have been kept on Lake Texoma for an extended period of time and are infested with zebra mussels may require additional cleaning procedures. Power-washing with water at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit and flushing the motor, bilges, live-wells and other water intake systems with 140-degree water will kill zebra mussels. To be effective the water coming out of the flushed systems needs to reach 140 degrees to ensure the entire system was exposed to water hot enough to kill the mussels.

If it is not possible to clean the internal systems or compartments using 140-degree water, the use of either straight vinegar or a chlorine bleach and water solution (one-half ounce bleach to one gallon water) can be effective at killing zebra mussels as long as the mixture is kept in contact with the mussels for 20 to 30 minutes. Clean water should be used to flush the chemicals and dead mussels from the boat following treatment. Boat owners should check with their manufacturer to be sure using these chemicals will not void their warranty.

Large vessels with complex water intake systems such as those used for cooling the engine, air conditioning or personal sanitation may require decontamination by a boat mechanic or marina.

A video showing how to decontaminate a boat can be viewed at Additional information on zebra mussels and other invasive aquatic species in Texas is at

Information and videos on the Lake Texoma zebra mussel infestation can be found at This Facebook page will be updated with additional information on Lake Texoma as it becomes available.

Since zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Texoma, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) has suspended pumping water from Lake Texoma to Lake Lavon, which supplies their water treatment plant in Wylie, said Denise Hickey, public relations coordinator for NTMWD. “While zebra mussels do not have a negative impact on the quality of water supplied to our customers, they can clog pipelines and equipment, greatly increasing maintenance costs,” Hickey said.

“Zebra mussels are very good at filtering out the zooplankton and phytoplankton that are the basis of the aquatic food chain for fish and other aquatic organisms,” Van Zee said. “Zebra mussels have the potential to impact the valuable fisheries in Lake Texoma and other lakes. Because of the damage they can do to water pipelines, water treatment plants and anything left in the water, they are a potential problem for everyone in Texas, not just anglers and boaters.”

Under the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Penal Codes, possession or transporting of zebra mussels in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, jail time up to 180 days, or both.

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