The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Lower Colorado River Authority reported that zebra mussels have been found in Lake LBJ. Though small, zebra mussels — pictured here in Lake Texoma — pose a significant problem in lakes and waterways by forming huge masses on structures, beaches, rocks, and even boat motors. Photo by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
The species was previously discovered in Lake Travis.
“It is disheartening to see zebra mussels spreading higher up the chain of the Highland Lakes in the Colorado River basin as only boats can move this invasive species upstream to uninvaded reservoirs and downstream dispersal is inevitable,” said Monica McGarrity, senior scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species Management at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Zebra mussels haven’t yet been found in Lake Buchanan and Inks, upstream of Lake LBJ, but their introduction closer to these lakes reinforces how critical it is for boaters to take steps to prevent the spread.”
Officials anticipate zebra mussels will move downstream from Lake LBJ to Lake Marble Falls, where they’ve yet to be found.
On July 29, LCRA staff found about a dozen juvenile and adult zebra mussels near the Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant in Horseshoe Bay. Though the adults measure less than an inch, zebra mussels mass together to cause damage, including plugging pipes and water intakes.
Further surveys found juvenile and adult zebra mussels near Wirtz Dam, McNair Park, and Kingsland Community Park. Texas Parks and Wildlife officials stated that zebra mussel larvae were also found in plankton samples.
In June 2017, the LCRA and TPWD reported zebra mussels had been found in an “established, reproduction population” in Lake Travis.
As of August 2019, the parks department has reported that 17 Texas lakes in five river basins are infested with an established, reproducing population of zebra mussels.
“There is currently no effective way to selectively control or eliminate zebra mussels once they get established in a public lake,” said Mukhtar Farooqi, inland fisheries biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “This highlights the importance of Clean, Drain and Dry as our best line of defense for reducing the spread of zebra mussels to new lakes.”
In Texas, it is unlawful to possess or transport zebra mussels — dead or alive. Boaters are required to drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water to prevent the transfer of zebra mussels and other invasive species. This applies to all boats and watercraft, powered or not, and includes powerboats, personal watercraft such as Jet Skis, sailboats, kayaks, canoes, and any other vessel used on public waters.
Zebra mussels can harm aquatic species; cover rocks, beaches, and hard surfaces with sharp shells; clog water intakes; damage and increase the need for maintenance on facilities using raw surface water; and damage boats and motors left in infested waters.
Go to TexasInvasives.org for more on zebra mussels and other invasive species and how to protect against them.