A mandatory watercraft inspection program for vessels entering Truckee water bodies for the 2013 boating season has been put on hold.
On Tuesday, town council unanimously adopted the suspension after questions were raised on whether aquatic invasive species, specifically quagga and zebra mussels, are a potential risk in Donner Lake.
“The concern was whether or not there was enough calcium levels detected in Donner Lake for the mussels to establish and infest the lake, and the science wasn’t very supportive,” said Dan Olsen, animal services/code compliance manager.
Most studies indicate the mussels establish in waters with calcium levels of 10 parts per million, he said, while other developing studies indicate the mussels can survive and potentially reproduce at lower calcium levels. The calcium levels in Donner Lake average about 8 parts per million, Olsen said.
Review of new studies, along with previous studies, will be done, he said, with the goal of reporting findings back to town council in the fall and making a recommendation on whether to pursue a mandatory program.
“I’m all for looking into it,” said Donner Lake resident Charlie White. “… Lets get some real answers; something we can sink our teeth into. If we have to go on guesswork, I’m not for that.”
In the meantime, voluntary inspections will continue this boating season, with funding provided by the Truckee River Fund and operated by the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District.
According to a previous report, mandatory inspections were first approved in August 2012 to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species in Truckee water bodies, including Donner Lake, Glenshire Pond and the Truckee River.
According to data collected since 2010, neither zebra mussels nor quagga mussels live in Donner Lake. Other less-dangerous invasives, such as Asian clams and crawfish, have made it into its waters, however.