New Zebra Mussel Regulations Expanding Statewide - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

New Zebra Mussel Regulations Expanding Statewide

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Many Central Texans will be taking to the lakes this Memorial Day weekend. Many Central Texans will be taking to the lakes this Memorial Day weekend.
BELTON, TX - (KCEN) – Texas Parks and Wildlife has approved new statewide regulations to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels to other parts of Texas.

Zebra mussels were first found in Texas in 2009 in Texoma, and last year four new lakes were added to the list including Lake Belton.

Immediately restrictions were put in place last summer requiring all boats and other watercrafts to be completely drained before leaving or approaching another body of water. With this invasive mussel quickly reproducing, and other bodies of water so close to Lake Belton – the regulations will be expanded statewide starting July 1st.

“The thing with zebra mussels is once they become established in a lake, there is no getting rid of them,” Brain Van Zee said. “We’ve done some surveys on Lake Belton, and basically every place we’ve stopped to look we’ve found them.”

Van Zee is with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and is spearheading the agencies response to zebra mussels in Texas. He says while they pose a big problem, there’s a simple solution to stop them from spreading.

“Boaters that are potentially leaving a lake, if they’re not careful and do not drain every drop of water they could potentially be moving zebra mussels to other areas,” he said.

While these mussels are only about an inch and a half in size, they are extremely destructive. They will stick to any hard surface and will begin piling on top of each other – clogging motors and city water systems. They can also be harmful to other fish and wildlife over the years.

“The most problematic part with these mussels is they reproduce like crazy. A pair of individuals will have thousands, even hundreds of thousands of offspring,” David Britton with U.S. Fish and Wildlife said.

In addition to rapidly reproducing, the larvae are microscopic and in just one gallon of water there could be more than a hundred of their larvae. And if these mussels hitch a ride, they could survive weeks out of the water in humid and cool conditions.

“Right down the road we have Stillhouse Lake. That lake right now as far as we know is still clean and we’d like to keep it that way,” Van Zee said. “Just a little further down the road toward Austin we have the Highland Chain Lakes, Lake Travis, Lake Austin and other ones. They’re obviously a big concern.”

The new regulations will require all boats leaving any Texas public fresh water lake or river to drain their entire boat or watercraft, and all other things like bait buckets. In addition to that they suggest boaters to run their boat through a car wash or use a high pressure washer, and then allow their boat to dry for about a week before getting back on the water.

If you are found breaking the drain regulation you could be ticketed with a Class C misdemeanor punishable with a fine up to $500. A second offence could bring a fine up to $2,000 and or 180 days in jail.

To find out more about these regulations and what you can do to stop the spread of zebra mussels (click here).

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