Minnesota lake first in nation to use new product to kill zebra mussels
- Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
- Updated: September 9, 2014 – 10:59 AM
Product tested in Shorewood lake could reshape the nation’s fight against pervasive zebra mussels.
Christmas Lake in Shorewood became the first in the nation Monday to use a new technology that utilizes dead bacterial cells to eradicate the razor-shelled creatures that can damage boat motors, slice swimmers’ feet and threaten fish populations. The outcome could be a defining turning point in what has been a losing battle to control an invasive species that has spread to 29 states.
“This is history,” said Dan Molloy, a New York research scientist who developed the product, called Zequanox, and has advised local leaders. “It’s the first attempt to solve the zebra mussel problem in the world. And it’s got a shot at it.”
Minnesota officials have been intensifying efforts the past few years to slow the spread of numerous aquatic invasive species. These exotic mussels have spread around the state’s lakes by catching rides on boats and other watercraft. So far, efforts have largely focused on education and prevention, increased boat inspections and restrictions.
For the first time, wildlife officials are going on the offensive. The work on Christmas Lake finished Monday, and now researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey will test different applications and concentrations of Zequanox on neighboring Lake Minnetonka. Before now, the product had only been used in small experiments or to reduce zebra mussels in power plant water pipes.
“If it works, it will be a huge success story,” said Keegan Lund, an invasive species specialist with the Department of Natural Resources.
Zebra mussels have become the central focus in the fight to control the spread of aquatic invasive species. Along with being a nuisance to boaters and swimmers, zebra mussels can alter habitat for fish and insects. They can quickly proliferate by the millions once they are transported to a lake. Across Minnesota, zebra mussels have already infected nearly 200 waterways, such as Lake Minnetonka.
With Christmas Lake located so close to the massive lake, the local lake association has taken aggressive and sometimes controversial measures to prevent infestation, such as installing a gate at the only public access to prevent boaters from using it when inspectors aren’t there.
In August, four tiny zebra mussels were discovered near the boat launch, part of an estimated 5,000 juvenile zebra mussels later discovered in the lake as part of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District’s early detection monitoring program.
Test for other lakes
The federal government just approved Zequanox for use in lakes in July. The product is made from dead bacteria that kill zebra mussels when they eat it. For the first major trial, experts needed a lake that wasn’t fully infested.
In Christmas Lake, experts were able to detect the infestation early and prevent it from spreading by sectioning off the bay next to the boat launch and closing the public access to the estimated 800 boaters who use it each year.
“If it had been on the whole lake, we probably would have said, ‘Good luck, you got them,’ ” said Craig Dawson, the aquatic invasive species director for the Watershed District. But “it’s been well worth the effort. The information will be valuable for others.”
More work to come
On Monday, crews boarded a boat and, with gloves and masks, they sprayed the biological pesticide into the lake, turning the water a cloudy white color in the 50-foot by 60-foot area cordoned off from the rest of the lake. Officials from other counties and park districts watched the process.
But there are still questions. Wildlife officials want to know how will it affect small minnows in the lake and whether it will kill off 100 percent of the zebra mussels. Crews will monitor the lake daily to answer those questions, but won’t know if the effort was successful for two weeks.
Even then, they will be checking back next spring to see if the mussels return.
If they are successful, it is not a guarantee for other lakes like Minnetonka. Experts say it is too difficult and costly to kill off zebra mussels on entire lakes, particularly large ones. On Christmas Lake, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District paid $2,500 on equipment and the DNR spent $6,800 for Zequanox.
If all the zebra mussels aren’t destroyed, the DNR is looking into federal approval for a chemical treatment, which has been used in places like Winnipeg and Virginia.
No matter the result, the lake will offer groundbreaking answers to questions about the technology and how it can help with a growing national problem.
“This is the best chance we have of removing zebra mussels from lakes,” Dawson said. “We know there’s no 100 percent guarantee with the product, but it’s the best we can do.”
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141
NOTE: Hopefully our lake’s chemical composition plus the support of the membership to clean their vessels before launching, will keep Woodridge Lake free of Zebra Mussels. John
How it works
Zebra mussels die after eating Zequanox, a biological agent made from dead bacteria. It’s unclear how the agent affects minnows, but in lab tests native fish were not affected.
Zebra Mussels only are present in specific Connecticut waters. Most are found in the Housatonic River and the lakes along the river. If you look closely at the map, you will see that most bodies of waters are at low risk for boaters who use them. Woodridge Lake is one of those bodies with no invasion of these critters. Like many Connecticut waters, Woodridge Lake does not have the calcium levels to support the growth of these mussels. There is a high probability that Woodridge Lake would have Zebra Mussels if the calcium content were supportive of their growth as ducks, geese, and other fowl would have carried them to Goshen.
Still, it is important that we be vigilant in our efforts to prevent our boaters (fishing, recreational, kayaks, canoes, and etc.) from bringing Zebra Mussels to our lake.
Zebra Mussels have invaded Connecticut waters. Where are they?
Lake Housatonic (Derby, Monroe, Oxford, Seymour, and Shelton)
Twin Lakes (Salisbury)
This article below is from the January, 2012, issue of the Connecticut Wildlife magazine published by the CT DEEP. It shows waters where zebra mussels exist. We should carefully wash our vessels, trailers and any boating equipment before bringing to Woodridge Lake.
The Connecticut DEEP is quite concerned about the spread of Zebra Mussels and other species of aquatic invasive animals. The article from the CT Department of Environmental Protection (May/June 2011) magazine, Wildlife, discusses the concern, what happens, and what residents can do to protect Connecticut lakes from invasion.
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http://highonblog.com/its-all-about-life-lessons/being-a-kid-was-the-most-beautiful-phase-of-life/ BEWARE OF ZEBRA MUSSELS: WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP PROTECT OUR LAKE FROM THESE INVASIVE CREATURES. We can protect our lake from an invasion of Zebra Mussels if we all work together to keep these aquatic animals out of our lake. This species of mussels is harmful:
-These mussels attach to boats and motors. They clog the cooling systems in motors. They slow down boats when they attach to hulls. This leads to repairs and special methods of cleaning to make your boat efficient and looking new.
-They attach to docks and make them dangerous as the mussels have sharp edges and cut people in contact with the dock. -They attach to rocks in the lake creating sharp hazards for swimmers and waders.
-They clog the pipes which drain the lake. It is expensive to clean the pipes.
-Having Zebra Mussels in a lake reduces property values. We need your help in keeping these mussels out of our lake. The following is what you can do.
-If your vessel visits any other body of water during the year, it must be cleaned and dried before launching in Woodridge Lake. If your vessel is launched with a trailer, the trailer must also be cleaned and dried.
-If your vessel is a kayak, please make sure you clean out and dry the fore and aft bilges.
The Lake and Dam Committee will soon issue guidelines on how to clean your vessel.We will publish those guidelines as soon as available.cleaned and dried. Boats and trailers must be dried for at least five days. Washing must be thorough (power washing is preferred) The Lake and Dam Committee will soon issue guidelines on how to clean your vessel. We will include those guidelines as soon as available.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued guidelines on how to clean your vessel. Please click on the link below to obtain their recommendations.
Decontamination for Kayaks, Canoes, Paddleboards, and Inflatable Watercraft
Careful inspections of watercraft and gear are an effective method for preventing the inadvertent transport of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) into our pristine watershed. AIS can hide almost anywhere, and the adult zebra and quagga mussels can live up to 30 days out of water! Clean, Drain and Dry your watercraft and gear every time you haul out after use, and properly dispose of any plants or debris you find.
1.Clean kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and inflatable watercraft by inspecting your boat thoroughly and removing all dirt, plant and other material from your rudder, hull, cockpit and gear. If you’re coming from a region with infested waterbodies or find AIS during your inspection, wash with pressurized hot water if available, away from any water source. Cleaning solutions such as bleach, 409 degreaser, and vinegar can also be used to clean watercraft and effectively kill AIS; however, these solutions should never be used to clean watercraft on a beach or river bank where the solution could inadvertently enter the waterbody.
2.Drain the water from your hatches, cockpits, boards, and gear on land before you leave the immediate area. Open all hatches or plugs, turn the boat upside down and rest on an open hatch to incline the watercraft and drain it.
3.Dry your watercraft and gear, and store them in a dry place where aquatic invaders cannot survive. Inspect your watercraft and gear for moisture before launching. Adult quagga mussel can survive out of water for as long as 30 days! New Zealand mudsnail can survive even longer if they are kept in a cool, moist location.
4.Dispose of all dirt, plant and other material above the waterline on dry land or in a trash can. Be aware of storm drains and gutters that may flow to streams, rivers, or lakes.
Self-inspect and decontaminate your watercraft and gear every time you haul out and move between waterbodies. When leaving an area infested with AIS or if you find contaminants during your inspection, take special care and implement additional decontamination measures, such as a pressurized hot-water spray and/or keeping your watercraft completely dry for at least 5 days. Making the Clean Drain and Dry technique a habit every time you haul out or move between waterbodies will take just a few extra minutes and can make all the difference in protecting your recreation experience and our lake.