Invasive zebra mussels found in West Texas reservoir for first time

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O.H. Ivie Lake. (Courtesy: Texas Parks and Wildlife)

LEADAY, Texas (Nexstar) — Lake in West Texas is the latest waterway to fall victim to invasive zebra mussels.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, multiple specimens were found in O.H. Ivie Lake in 2019. The lake is in Coleman County, about an hour east of San Angelo, Texas.

Zebra mussels affixed to a rock on Lake Travis. (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard).

Zebra mussels reproduce rapidly and can have “serious economic, recreational and environmental impacts on Texas reservoirs and rivers.” Texas Parks and Wildlife said the mussels can harm aquatic species, cover rocks, beaches, hard surfaces with sharp shells, clog water intakes, damage or increase maintenance on facilities using raw surface water, and damage boats stored in lakes with zebra mussels.

Four adult zebra mussels were discovered by the Colorado River Municipal Water District in March 2019 in an above ground storage tank that is part of the lake’s water transmission system near San Angelo, the agency reported. Further testing revealed a zebra mussel veliger larva near the Concho Recreation Area boat ramp in November.

“TPWD and CRMWD are going to continue to monitor the situation to determine if zebra mussels have established a reproducing population in the lake, but we are also asking the public to help us by keeping an eye out and reporting any zebra mussel sightings at O.H. Ivie Lake to aquaticinvasives@tpwd.texas.gov,” said Monica McGarrity, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Senior Scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species Management.

The discovery of zebra mussels in O.H. Ivie Lake marks the 30th Texas lake where the invasive species has been found.

Image provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

According to the state agency, O.H. Ivie is the sixth lake in the Colorado River Basin where zebra mussels have been found, alongside Austin, Lady Bird, Lyndon B. Johnson, Marble Falls, Travis and Walter E. Long.

The newest discovery is upstream from the other waterways where zebra mussels have been previously found in that same river basin, agency leaders suspect they were transported on a boat or other water equipment.

“It is essential that boaters be vigilant to not spread zebra mussels to nearby lakes that are now at higher risk due to proximity of zebra mussels,” said Brian Van Zee, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries Regional Director. “It is important for all lake users to protect our lakes by cleaning, draining and drying their boats and equipment every time they leave the water and properly decontaminate their boat if it was stored in the water on lakes with zebra mussels.”

Anyone who believes they have seen zebra mussels in Texas waterways is encouraged to email photos and location information to aquaticinvasives@tpwd.texas.gov and report the sighting by calling 512-389-4848.

The agency posted more information about zebra mussels at at tpwd.texas.gov/ZebraMussels. TPWD has also shared a short instructional video on how to properly clean, drain and dry boats and equipment.

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