July 20, 2008

Spring Valley Lake to Prevent Spread of Quagga Mussels

By Brooke Edwards, Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.

Jul. 20--SPRING VALLEY LAKE -- Spring Valley Lake is taking precautions to prevent the spread of the damaging quagga mussel, recently found attached to the hull of a boat as close as Big Bear.

"It's not an issue now, and that is the reason we started implementing preventative methods," said Osmar Castro, general manager of Spring Valley Lake Association.

Quaggas are filter feeders which reproduce quickly and can destroy the natural habitat of waters they infest, according to the California Department of Fish & Game.

The triangular mollusks -- which can be microscopic or up to two inches in diameter -- can also clog boat steerage, intake pipes and props, and can damage a lake's pumping system.

SVLA staff has hand-delivered flyers about the threat to each home in the community and have posted signs near the boat-ramp launch.

They've also been asking owners if their boats have been in infected lakes -- including Lake Mead, Lake Havasu and Lake Mojave -- before they launch, as the species can survive out of water for up to one week on hard or soft surfaces.

"We haven't encountered one yet," Castro said.

But if they do, he said the public safety department has been trained in what measures to take. This includes draining the boat and cleaning the hull and any fishing or dive gear with pressurized hot water, though Castro advised doing so away from SVL, as the water will simply run off into the lake.

Quagga mussels are native to Europe and first found west of the Continental Divide when they were discovered in Lake Mead, Nev., last January. Fish and Game now says any body of water fed by the Colorado River system has been exposed to the species, with confirmed sightings in San Bernardino, San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties.

Fish and Game has checked more than 100,000 boats at agricultural inspection stations, such as the one in Yermo. They have found and treated 150 boats with adult mussels attached.


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Copyright (c) 2008, Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.

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