Owners of non-motorized watercraft in Utah required to train on quagga mussel prevention

Jun 21, 2024, 4:00 PM

Quagga mussels...

Quagga mussels are pictured on a wall at Lake Powell. (Devan Chavez/Utah State Parks)

(Devan Chavez/Utah State Parks)

SALT LAKE CITY — Before you launch your boat in Utah this summer, a new law requires you to take an online training course about the prevention of quagga mussels.

Lt. Bruce Johnson heads up the Aquatic Invasive Species Division at DWR. He said they’re working hard to keep quagga mussels from spreading.

“We ask all the boaters as they leave a water body. Make sure the boat is clean pull all the drain plugs, which is required by law, and allow that boat to dry. So they’re not transporting water.”

Related: DWR discovers more efficient way to decontaminate boats from quagga mussels

He said the reason is that in their younger stages, quagga mussels are microscopic and just float in the water.

“They’re incredibly invasive and they can take over an entire water body and ecosystem. They’re filter feeders, so they will filter out all the plankton and the macrophytes they will disrupt that food chain for the rest of the aquatic species in that water body. The small invertebrates up through what the fish will eat and then they could potentially take a lot of those food resources out of the water body.

Johnson said that as they grow, they can also damage engines and machinery.

“They build up so much and continue to build on each other and they will plug off all the water flow. And so motors will no longer be able to cycle water that will cool the engine and they can ruin engines. They will do the same thing with all the water supply line[s] in that boat. As well as [a] dams infrastructure [and] water supply lines through any of our water treatment facilities as well.”

He said the quagga mussels showed up in Lake Powell about 11 years ago. 

Who else needs to do the quagga mussel prevention training?

Johnson said the training also applies to owners of non-motorized and inflatable boats.

“We asked them to still go through the education course, we have that online. So it is easy and accessible. They read some information. They take a quick quiz. Takes about 15 minutes total and then they can print out or save that on their phone as proof that they’ve gone through that course.”

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

He said there is no fee for non-motorized boats, while the owners of motorized watercraft will need to pay $25. 

“The fee payment, that is not new. The only new part to is the way it is assessed. For the last seven or eight years, that fee was assessed through the department of motor vehicles with their boat registration for motorized boats. Now we’ve been required to have that payment come directly to the Division of Wildlife Resources… So it’s not a new fee. It’s not a new requirement. It’s been in place, we’ve just adjusted how it is being administered.”

Johnson said there is one more requirement for boat owners.

“All watercraft are required to stop at our inspection stations when they’re open and operating and it’s just to make sure that even those smaller craft inflatables are in compliance, even though they have taken that education course and maybe legal and how other paperwork they’re still required to stop at those inspection stations.”

Related: Expert wants boaters to know the rules about drinking on the water

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Owners of non-motorized watercraft in Utah required to train on quagga mussel prevention