Lake Waco, TX — Brian Van Zee is the regional Director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Lately he’s been talking a lot about the Zebra Mussel. Its been causing headaches for many water systems. Starting in the Great Lakes and spreading from there.
“The Zebra mussel population can expand to huge numbers within a lake," said Van Zee. They’re not native to Texas. So they’ll find these niches in our aquatic environments. They can basically exploit those niches and overtake the ecosystems in our lakes and rivers.”
Thankfully, Lake Waco is currently free of the Zebra Mussel right now. But if the species were to invade the area, it would engage the city and the taxpayers of Waco in a long and costly battle.
“They’ll just continue attaching themselves to other mussels until they finally block that pipeline closed or the water-intake system," said Van Zee. The pumps work harder. They pump longer to get the same amount of water. So its an increase in pumping costs. An increase in maintenance costs. They cause a lot of problems and expenses for municipalities.
Recently, Lake Texoma and Lake Ray Roberts in the Dallas-FT Worth area have tested positive for the species.
The North Texas Municipal Water District now plans to spend roughly $300 million to rid themselves of the mussels. And even that can guarantee they will be eradicated.
The department is now urging travelling fishermen to make sure they clean their boats before entering local lakes. Especially those visiting Texoma or Ray Boberts.
"If they go to a clean lake and they have the zebra mussels and don’t remove them, and don’t take those proper precautions, they are going to introduce them to a new lake and system. And that’s what we are trying to do here at Lake Waco. We’re trying to avoid Lake Waco of ever getting Zebra Mussles," said Van Zee.