ST. GEORGE – With the exception of Lake Powell, all of Utah’s waterways are free of quagga mussels, also known as the “STD of the Sea,” and state officials want to keep it that way.
With Memorial Day coming up, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources wants boaters to know what they can do to help keep these invasive mussels from spreading to other reservoirs and waterways.
If this is your first time reading about quagga mussels and you’re wondering what they are and why they’re a problem, consider the following from the DWR:
- Mussels can plug water lines, even lines that are large in diameter.
- If mussels get into water pipes in Utah, it will cost millions of dollars to try to remove them, and you’ll likely pay higher utility bills as a result.
- Mussels remove plankton from the water, the same plankton that supports fish in Utah. The mussels could devastate fisheries in Utah.
- Mussels can get into your boat’s engine cooling system. Once they do, they’ll foul the system and damage the engine.
- When mussels die in large numbers, they stink. And their sharp shells can cut your feet as you walk along the beaches where the mussels died.
To keep the little monsters from spreading beyond Lake Powell, boaters are encouraged to clean, drain and dry their boats.
“Utah’s waters are tested for quagga mussels regularly, but you never know when and where they might turn up,” DWR Lt. Scott Daledout said in press release issued Thursday. “Cleaning, draining and drying your boat — after every boating trip — will help ensure any mussels that might have attached themselves to your boat, or gotten into its water supply, aren’t carried to another water.”
More information about the process of keeping you boat mussel-free can be found at STDoftheSea.utah.gov
When at Lake Powell
When at Lake Powell, Dalebout asks boat-bound visitors to be patient at the docks as either DRW or Utah State Parks technicians will be checking to make sure that boats that have visited waters known to be infested with quagga mussels have been properly decontaminated. This can make the lines and wait to get onto the water a little long.
“They’re trying to get boaters through the lines as fast as they can while ensuring that any boat that might be carrying mussels doesn’t slip through,” Dalebout said.
If you boat on Lake Powell, you must remove the drain plugs from your boat and leave them out until you get home. Leaving the plugs out will help ensure that all of the water in the boat drains out as you travel down the road.
Mandatory inspection stations
Utah has three mandatory quagga mussel inspection stations that operate throughout the summer.
If you’re pulling or transporting any type of watercraft, which includes anything from boats to float tubes, you must stop at the stations. Failing to stop can result in a citation.
One of those inspection stations is in Southern Utah, located at the Interstate 15 point of entry near St. George. All watercraft traveling north on I-15 must stop.
The other inspection station are located at:
- Garden City and Laketown near Bear Lake. All watercraft traveling to Bear Lake must stop.
- The Daniels Canyon point of entry along U.S. Highway 40, just southeast of Heber City, near mile marker 22. Only vehicles that are traveling up the canyon with watercraft — southeast, out of Heber City and Provo — need to stop. Vehicles with watercraft traveling the opposite way down the canyon — northwest, toward Heber City — are not required to stop.
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