The growing infestation of zebra mussels in Lewis & Clark Lake along the Nebraska/South Dakota border is causing increasing troubles for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Dave Becker, Operations Manager for the Corps at Gavins Point Dam, says they’re finding more mussels attaching themselves to structures.
“Especially on our intake gates to the power plant and our spillway gates,” Becker says. “They’re just heavier and heavier on them all the time and that increases the weight of the gate you’re opening and closing and increases maintenance overall.”
The critters also pose a threat to the interior functioning of the hydro-electric generators. Becker says they are working on countermeasures.
“Some of our folks in the district office are designing a system that any of our cooling water that we bring into the power plant will be treated with light bulbs,” Becker says. “The UV rays from that will render the zebra mussel larvae harmless. We hope to install that within the next year or so.”
Becker says the three massive generators have radiators that use lake water.
“Each one of our generators has eight radiators that surround the coil to cool the generators, similar to a radiator on a car,” Becker says. “They clog up way more often now.” While the radiators used to need a cleaning once a year, now it’s every few months.
Zebra mussels are an invasive species that multiply rapidly and can plug pipes and other underwater structures.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton