The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Thursday, Dec. 17, that Lake Buchanan is infested with invasive zebra mussels.
Lower Colorado River Authority scientists discovered zebra mussel larvae in plankton samples taken from three sites on the lake in October. TPWD officials confirmed the identity, and, in November, the LCRA collected further samples, again finding zebra mussels at two of the three initial sites.
In early December, crews working on the floodgate at Buchanan Dam also discovered zebra mussels.
“Infested” status, according to TPWD, “signifies that there is an established, reproducing population of zebra mussels in the lake.”
“At this time, the results indicate that the population in the lake appears to be small,” said Monica McGarrity, TPWD senior scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species Management. “However, as we have seen in other Texas lakes, the population is likely to increase rapidly over the next few years.”
Though zebra mussels have not been detected in Inks Lake, due to its location immediately downstream from Lake Buchanan, officials believe it will likely become infested in the future. So far, shoreline surveys of Inks Lake have not detected zebra mussel settlements nor have fall plankton samples shown zebra mussel larvae.
Texas has 31 lakes with zebra mussels, including LBJ, Marble Falls, and Travis.
TPWD officials are encouraging boaters and homeowners on Lake Buchanan and Inks Lake to keep an eye out for zebra mussels or suspected invasive species and report sightings to email@example.com with a photo if possible.
Though zebra mussels individually are rather small, growing 1-1½ inches, they amass in large colonies and can cause damage to docks, boats, water intakes, and other structures. They can also prove hazardous to lakegoers if stepped on or brushed up against due to their hard, triangular shells.
Brian Van Zee, TPWD’s inland fisheries regional director, explained that boaters play a critical role in preventing the spread of zebra mussels into new lakes.
“Before traveling from lake to lake, clean, drain, and dry your boat and gear,” he said. “Remove plants, mud and debris, drain all the water from the boat and gear, and then open up compartments once you get home and allow everything to dry completely.”
Boaters can also call 512-389-4848 for guidance on decontaminating their watercraft before taking it to another lake. Other resources can be found on the Texas Invasives website.