Editorial: Boaters must take care to keep mussels from the lake | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Editorial: Boaters must take care to keep mussels from the lake

Until Labor Day, Lake Tahoe boaters should expect random, mandatory watercraft inspections at all public launch sites around the lake.

Inspections are designed to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels to Lake Tahoe, and prevent the spread of existing aquatic invasive plants from Lake Tahoe to Fallen Leaf and Echo lakes.

And though they can be inconvenient for boaters, inspections are critical, experts contend.

Scientists contend the mussels are so invasive that just one in Lake Tahoe could wreak havoc for generations to come. According to John Singlaub, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the effects of the mussels could “kill the economy and ruin recreational tourism on the lake.”

Though none have been found in Lake Tahoe, zebra mussels appeared in San Justo Reservoir at the beginning of this year. The Reservoir is just 250 miles from here. A year earlier, quagga mussels were discovered in Lake Mead, Lake Mojave and Lake Havasu on the Colorado River.

Once in the lake, the mussels can attach to most surfaces, including boat hulls, water intakes, the lake floor and other native mussels. And in their larval stage, they’re about as big as a grain of sand, making them highly difficult for most people to identify.

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In that stage, the mussels can live in standing water in bilges, live wells and boat motors, and be easily transported from one area to another. If they grow in water-treatment facilities, the mussels can clog pipes and potentially cause millions of dollars in damage.

So given their enormous destructive potential as we head into the boating season, please take extra precaution when launching your boats. By doing so, you’re doing your part to protect one of the prettiest lakes in the world.

– Some information for this editorial came from the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.