Concerns are being raised about Nebraska’s waterways after the recent discovery of invasive mussel species in two South Dakota lakes.
Allison Zach is the Nebraska invasive species program coordinator for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She says both zebra and quagga mussels in South Dakota could mean trouble for Nebraska, especially those found along the border at Lewis and Clark Lake.
“Offutt Air Force Base Lake in Bellevue, Nebraska, has zebra mussels but we do not allow motorized boats on that lake and all of our other water bodies have been negative and we test them yearly for zebra mussels,” Zach says. “So, Lewis and Clark is a concern to us because it is a highly-recreational lake and once you have zebra mussels, it has an effect on property values.”
The Angostura Reservoir in southwest South Dakota was confirmed to have quagga mussels in September and a single adult zebra mussel was found in Lewis and Clark Lake in November.
Zach says the larger quagga mussels pose a bigger threat than the zebra species.
“They filter feed more of the nutrients than the zebra mussel,” Zach says. “They also do not need hard substrates to attach like zebra mussels, so they are more of a concern because they can live on sandy bottoms of lakes. So, Angostura, where they found the larvae of the quagga mussels is a very large concern to us because they are worse.”
She says the two states would both benefit greatly from boat inspection programs.
“It is really important that we get support in South Dakota and Nebraska to get formal boat inspection programs so we can educate people on how to inspect their boats, how to clean, drain and dry them,” Zach says. “That’s how you kill these larvae and protect our water bodies.”
Both species of mussels can reproduce rapidly, clogging pipes and water systems. Lewis and Clark Lake is classified as a “suspect lake” for zebra mussels after the discovery of a single adult mussel and will remain suspect for at least three years.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton