Biologists have found the DNA of invasive zebra mussels in six additional Texas lakes. That doesn’t mean the mussels are there, but KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports the discovery has heightened concerns.
Right now Texoma is the only Texas lake known to be infested with zebra mussels and officials want to prevent their spreading.
That’s why biologists became concerned when they found zebra mussel DNA in six additional lakes: Eagle Mountain, Lewisville, Ray Roberts, Arrowhead, Bridgeport and Caddo.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Brian Van Zee says there’s no confirmation zebra mussels have become established in those lakes. Van Zee says parks officials hope the DNA is simply the result of Texoma boaters transporting the genetic material as they move from lake to lake.
Van Zee: We’re hopeful these results are just kind of an indication maybe they are being moved around and maybe there’s a threat there and boaters need to take precautions to clean, drain and dry their boats. But hopefully nothing gets established in these other reservoirs.
Fast growing zebra mussels can reduce the food supply of some aquatic life. They can also clog intake systems at industrial plants along waterways causing millions of dollars in damages.
After zebra mussels were discovered in Texoma in 2009, the North Texas Municipal Water District cut off its Texoma water supply to prevent a spread of the mussels.
Van Zee says parks staff are also proposing stricter boating regulations.
Van Zee: Basically you are going to make it a regulation to require boaters and anglers to drain all water from their boats, the dry wells, their bait buckets and that type of thing.
Van Zee says that proposal will go to Texas Parks and Wildlife commissioners for approval.