Zebra Mussel Early Detection Monitoring

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Plankton Net Sampling

Zebra Mussel Early Detection Monitoring

Zebra Mussels are an invasive species. Once they become established in a body of water, there isn’t much that can be done to remove them. With that in mind, the Brazos River Authority’s environmental team, in cooperation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, has taken an active role in the surveillance and monitoring of BRA System reservoirs for zebra mussel infestations.

Currently, zebra mussels have not been found in the three Brazos River Authority reservoirs: Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury and Lake Limestone. However, infestations have been found in several reservoirs throughout the Brazos River basin. All it takes is one trip between an infested lake and a noninfected lake with an unclean watercraft to do irreversible damage.

Throughout the state of Texas, there are 19 lakes and five river basins infested with zebra mussels. Four of these lakes occur within the Brazos River basin. They include Lake Belton, Lake Granger, Lake Georgetown, and Stillhouse Hollow Lake.

Settlement Sampler with adult Zebra Mussels on it

Recent monitoring and surveillance activities have occurred at lakes Georgetown and Granger, where crews have conducted vertical plankton net tows near the dams and docks on the lake along with setting substrate samplers on courtesy docks for the detection of adult zebra mussels. Samples are then sent off for testing to determine the presence of zebra mussel DNA and the presence of veligers, which are the larval stage of a zebra mussel.

These field sampling methods are critical in the early detection of zebra mussels and provide vital information to the BRA on how to address and slow the potential impact to our water supply infrastructure.

Lake Limestone will be the focus of zebra mussel early detection sampling for BRA aquatic scientists now that Lakes Georgetown and Granger have tested positive. TPWD biologists are performing similar monitoring on Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Granbury.

All of us need to play an active role in preventing the spread of zebra mussels. But more importantly, the responsibility falls in the laps of the boating community.

Remember to “Clean, Drain, and Dry” your boat. Transport of zebra mussels may occur in all sizes of watercraft, includes kayaks, canoes, and inflatable rafts.

For more information on zebra mussels, go here. For how to properly Clean, Drain, and Dry your boat and any other information on aquatic invasive species, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Zebra Mussel page.