Zebra mussels are showing up in Tarrant County. Officials say the razor-sharp shells have turned up in the waters of Lake Worth and Eagle Mountain Lake.
Flooding last year may have helped push the infestation of down the West Fork of the Trinity River.
Recreational boaters will play the biggest role in slowing the spread of the invasive species – that’s according to UT-Arlington zoologist Robert McMahon. So if you’re going out on the water this summer, McMahon has some advice.
“They should drain, dry and clean their boats. But most important is drain – they should make sure they’re not carrying any water from one place to another,” he says.
McMahon says boaters should check for zebra mussels when pulling boats out of the water -- and take precautions not to move the shells from one lake to another.
“Spray, clean the hull completely and let it dry for at least a week under present temperatures before you go to your next place,” he says. “No matter what you do, don’t take your boat from one lake to another in the same day.”
Zebra mussels spread fast. Since they were first spotted in Texas seven years ago, six lakes are now fully infested. They’ve turned up in a half dozen other lakes around the state.
McMahon says that comes at a cost.
"It hurts communities,” he says. “Boaters may not want to boat in a lake that has mussels in it. It can hurt the environment for fishing. The shells are sharp as can be so you can no longer walk on your bare feet on beaches. And it raises the cost of your water.”
That’s because zebra mussels clog public-water intake pipes. McMahon says cities across the country have had to build new water infrastructure to replace clogged pipes.