SAN ANTONIO – Invasive zebra mussels that can harm wildlife are overwhelming a North Texas lake, according to officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Due to the growing population of zebra mussels in Richland Chambers Reservoir, southeast of Dallas, its status moved from “positive” to “infested,” TPWD said Tuesday.
Officials said the status change is due to new evidence of reproduction of the species, which was first found in 2017.
“Conditions in most Texas lakes are highly conducive to zebra mussel establishment," Monica McGarrity, TPWD senior scientist for aquatic invasive species management, said in a news release. “Once they are introduced to a water body, it’s only a matter of time before they fully infest the lake and have negative impacts which is why it is so important for all boaters to take steps to clean, drain, and dry their boats to prevent the spread.”
Officials said the Richland Chambers Reservoir received the “positive” designation when mussels were discovered in a cove in 2017. The Tarrant Regional Water District used a “novel low-dose copper compound” to try to remove the mussels.
Mussels were not detected in 2018 and 2019, but TPWD and the Tarrant Regional Water District found the mussels near the same cove from 2017 and at the Kingswood boat ramp.
TPWD says multiple class sizes were found.
Grapevine Lake, near Grapevine, and O.H. Ivie Lake, east of San Angelo, were also designated as fully “infested" this summer.
Zebra mussels have a presence in 30 Texas lakes and five rivers.
In the San Antonio area, Lake Placid and Lake McQueeney near Seguin and Lake Dunlap in New Braunfels also have tested positive for the species.
The zebra mussels are sharp, causing a hazard on the shorelines. They can also damage boats, hurt aquatic life and clog pipes, TPWD says.
Brian Van Zee, inland fisheries regional director for TPWD, said boaters can help stop the spread by removing debris from their boats, draining water and allowing gear to dry out.
According to TexasInvasives.org, boaters could face a $500 fine for the transportation or possession of zebra mussels if they do not clean, drain and dry their boats.