Zebra Mussels Still Present in Lake Waco

Media Contact: Brian VanZee, (254) 867-7974, icle__media__contact">Media Contact: Brian VanZee, (254) 867-7974, brian.vanzee@tpwd.texas.gov; Heath McLane, (254) 756-5359, Heath.R.McLane@usace.army.mil; Tom Conry, (254) 750-6642, tomc@wacotx.gov

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ATHENS— Live zebra mussels have been found in Lake Waco, despite efforts over the last five months by the City of Waco, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

After first being documented in the central Texas lake on September 26, 2014, eight plastic tarps were installed over the shoreline and lake bottom with hopes that the tarps would block oxygen from reaching the area where the infestation was discovered. However, after removing the tarps from the lake earlier this month, two live specimens were found on rocks brought to the surface by divers.

“While we were not able to get 100 percent control of the zebra mussels, we do believe that we were successful in creating anoxic conditions over much of the area,” said Brian Van Zee, Inland Fisheries Regional Director for TPWD. “At this point we can’t say if enough survived to create a reproducing population, but at least we may have slowed them down. Both TPWD and the City of Waco will continue monitoring Lake Waco for evidence of zebra mussel reproduction and potential expansion of the population.

“Boaters who come to Lake Waco need to be aware that zebra mussels are still present in the lake and they need to take the proper precautions to avoid spreading them to another water body,” Van Zee continued.

In Texas it is unlawful to possess or transport zebra mussels, dead or alive. TPWD regulations also require boaters statewide to drain all water from their boat and on-board receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water in order to prevent the transfer of invasive species. This regulation applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not: personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes or any other vessel used on public waters. Movement from one access point to another on the same lake during the same day does not require draining, and there is an exception for governmental activities and emergencies. Marine sanitary systems are not covered by these regulations.

“Three simple steps can help stop the spread of zebra mussels,” said Van Zee. “Clean, drain and dry your boat when leaving any body of water. If a boat is stored for a long period of time in a slip in a marina and then taken off the water to be transported to another lake, it will need to be carefully inspected. If zebra mussels are found it should be placed in dry dock long enough to ensure all zebra mussels are dead and then fully cleaned. We recommend that the vessel be cleaned by someone who is familiar with all the components of the boat, as all livewells, bilges, motors and any other receptacles or water-intake systems coming into contact with public waters must be cleaned.”

Additionally, live fish, including personally caught live bait, cannot be transported from the water body where the fish were caught in or aboard a vessel in water from the water body where the fish were caught. Personally caught live bait can be used in the water body where it was caught.

Anglers are allowed to transport and use commercially purchased live bait if they have a receipt that identifies the source of the bait. Any live bait purchased from a location on or adjacent to a public water body that is transported in water from that water body can only be used as bait on that same water body.

Anglers participating in a fishing tournament confined to one water body may transport live fish in water from that single water body to an identified off-site weigh-in location, but all water must be drained and properly disposed of before leaving that location. Anglers are required to possess documentation provided by tournament organizers that identify them as participants in the tournament.

TPWD and a coalition of partners have been working to slow the spread of zebra mussels by reminding boaters to Clean, Drain and Dry their vessels before traveling from one lake to another. The partners in this effort include: North Texas Municipal Water District, Tarrant Regional Water District, City of Dallas Water Utilities Department, Trinity River Authority, San Jacinto River Authority, Sabine River Authority, Brazos River Authority, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, Lower Colorado River Authority, Upper Trinity Regional Water District, City of Houston, City of Grapevine, Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

More information can be found online at www.texasinvasives.org/zebramussels.