With spring right around the corner people will start to head to the lakes and at some lakes they will find zebra mussels.
Fifteen lakes in the state of Texas are considered infested with zebra mussels, but almost all of those lakes are outside of this area. Zebra mussels can cause a lot of problems for pipes, boats and the ecosystem, but there are simple things to do to keep them from spreading.
Zebra mussels have found their way into many lakes. Luckily Lake Arrowhead, Lake Kickapoo and Lake Wichita are not on that list
“We have 15 lakes in the state of Texas that would be classified as infested,” said Tom Lang, district fisheries supervisor for Texas Parks and Wildlife. “We are lucky, in this immediate area the closest ones are Bridgeport and Lake Texoma. However Lake Waurika in Oklahoma also does, but in Texas the closet ones are Bridgeport and Lake Texoma.”
When it comes to stopping them from spreading, there are a couple things to do to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“Make sure you drain all the water out that you can get out and before you go to another lake that you are going to. It needs to be where it will dry out before you go to the other lake ,” said Jerry Howell, a salesman at Larry’s Marine Center.
As small as the zebra mussels are, they can cause massive problems.
“What they do is they grow on top of each other. You’ll see a rock and they will absolutely over take a rock like that,” Lang said. “They will also just fill up a pipe. They clog pipes by growing on pipes, so we have to have maintenance, remove and clean out those pipes. What pays for that? Our water bills pay for that.”
It’s not just pipes zebra mussels can affect, they can disrupt the ecosystem.
“There’s only so much biomass that any lake can produce,” Lang said. “These are filter feeders. They will clean nutrients and phytoplankton and zooplankton. They will filter those right out of the water. Those are the same things young fish eat and that bait fish eat and those bait fish get eaten by larger fish. When you have zebra mussels you are limiting the productions of the great crappie fisheries that we have.”
With something so small able to cause so much damage, everyone needs to keep an eye out to make sure zebra mussels do not make their way to the lakes in Texoma.
Lang said zebra mussels could also be transported by releasing fish from an infested lake into another one. There are state regulations designed to help stop the spread of species like zebra mussels.