Tahoe agency looks to buy portable boat wash station | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe agency looks to buy portable boat wash station

Jeff Munson

With the very real threat that invasive species like the quagga mussel could infest Lake Tahoe, the agency in charge of regulating the lake hopes to have at least one portable boat wash station up and running by the end of July.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has committed paying $150,000 for at least one portable station, which looks similar a semi-trailer car carrier. The wash station is designed to spray water at a temperature of 140 degrees on boats before they enter the lake.

But before officials actually make the commitment to buy the station, they must first find a home or homes for it, said Jeff Cowen, public liaison for the agency.

“We’d like to have it as soon as possible. We’re waiting to get sites picked,” Cowen said. “The ultimate goal is to have permanent boat washes at every marina.”

The TRPA’s Governing Board adopted an emergency resolution at its May meeting citing the need for action by all agencies and the public to address invasive aquatic species.

The agency provided the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with a declaration of emergency that allowed funding to be available.

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Quagga mussels were discovered in January at Lake Mead, prompting an alert to all agencies in California and Nevada that manage lakes. Like its cousin the zebra mussel, quagga mussels can have serious impacts on native wildlife, fisheries and Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem. Their presence can also obstruct pipes in municipal water systems, costing millions of dollars to repair.

The TRPA is working with Nevada Department of Transportation and Caltrans to use their changeable message boards and highway advisory radio stations on roads leading into the basin to alert boaters to the need to inspect and clean their boats prior to launching at Lake Tahoe, according to TRPA’s Web site.