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New weapon to fight quagga mussels at Lake Powell

Apr 9, 2021, 12:43 PM
lake powell mussells...
Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Boaters planning summer adventures on Lake Powell will soon have a new tool in the fight against quagga mussels. 

The new system incorporates a dip tank large enough to hold a boat. It can eliminate the invasive species in about ten minutes. 

A revolutionary method

According to Lt. Bruce Johnson with Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the system, developed by Clean Wake LLC, revolutionizes the fight against invasive species. 

“We’re grateful. It’s been a wonderful cooperative effort with Garrett (Atwood, Clean Wake’s founder) and Clean Wake, and then with National Parks Service and Bureau of Reclamation and the Division [of Wildlife Resources],” he said. 

Clean Wake’s founder said his inspiration came from experience. 

“I was waiting in the quagga mussel inspection line with other boaters who were trying to leave Lake Powell,” Atwood said. “I watched as the DWR staff worked in extreme heat to decontaminate boats of all shapes and sizes, many of which had intake systems that were far from standardized. It seemed like a time-consuming and challenging process, and I thought there had to be a better way.”

State officials plan to install the system at Wahweap Marina’s Stateline Launch Ramp on May 1. 

The fight against mussels at Lake Powell

Boaters back into the tank, which circulates 110-degree water through the bilge and ballast tanks. This performs a kind of mussel “flush” that keeps the invasive creatures from hitching a ride away from Lake Powell. 

“It flushes the hot water through those systems completely and then returns it back into the tank in less than 10 minutes,” Johnson said in an interview with Tim Hughes for KSL’s Outdoors Show. You can listen to the full interview on Saturday, April 10 on KSL NewsRadio.

The mussel flush at Wahweap Marina makes Lake Powell boaters’ jobs much easier. Previously, they had to clean their boats with elbow grease, spraying and scrubbing with hot water.  

Why it matters

Quagga mussels have cost the state millions in the past in terms of repair to infrastructure. DWR officials said mussels in water delivery systems could cost the state millions annually to clean and remove. Failing to stop at an inspection station is a class B misdemeanor under Utah law. 

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