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Oklahoma City hopes to prevent spread of zebra mussels

Zebra mussels have infested Lake Hefner. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

Zebra mussels have infested Lake Hefner. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

Zebra mussels were confirmed in Lake Hefner last year, and city officials are asking boaters and anglers to help stop the invasive species from spreading to other lakes.

They are starting a public awareness campaign called “Inspect, Clean, Drain and Dry” to educate lake users on preventive measures.

Zebra mussels damage boats, trailers, boat docks and fishing piers, and pose a multibillion dollar threat to local water treatment facilities and industrial water supplies.

They have been found in more than 20 lakes in Oklahoma, including Keystone Lake, Oologah Lake, Grand Lake, Kaw Lake, Lake Eufaula, Sooner Lake and Lake Texoma, among others. The mussels found in Lake Hefner are the first confirmed in Oklahoma City.

The mussels move from lake to lake by attaching themselves as microscopic “seeds” to watercraft and other equipment, and are transported to other bodies of water by unsuspecting boaters or anglers.

“The larva are hard to detect and can live up to a month in a small pool of water, making it easier to be transported to another water body,” said Dustin Segraves, Oklahoma City's water quality superintendent. “That's why we're asking all lake users, including anglers, sail boaters, kayakers, paddle boarders and wind surfers to follow “Inspect-Clean-Drain-Dry” protocols.

Lake users are asked to practice the following protocols:

• Inspect all boats, trailers and other equipment (including rubber boats and fisherman floats) for mud, plants and seeds before leaving the lake

• Clean boats and trailers equipment with a pressure washer at 140 degrees, or take them through a car wash before entering another body of water.

• Drain water from boats, motors, bilges, live wells, bait containers, coolers and ballasts.

• If a pressure washer is not available, dry watercraft and other equipment for at least five days before entering another water source.

Segraves said Oklahoma City's water remains safe to drink even when zebra mussels are present.

“The biggest threat is to our treatment facility intake units, pumps and pipes, which can become clogged by the mussels if we do not clean and maintain them regularly, costing the city, and taxpayers, a great deal of money,” he said.

If anglers or boaters suspect the presence of zebra mussels in any other city waters, they should call the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at 521-3721.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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