Celebrating freedom on July 4 while keeping lakes free of zebra mussels

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department urges boaters to “clean, drain, and dry” to fight spread of invasive species.

MEDINA LAKE – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wants boaters heading to the state’s lakes or rivers for the weekend to do their part keeping them free of invasive species.

Across the state, 27 lakes have been declared “fully infested” with zebra mussels, including Medina Lake to the Northwest of San Antonio. The invasive species of mussels only grow up to an inch-and-a-half individually, but they can develop in large clusters.

Once they’re established in a lake, TPWD says “nothing can be done to control or eradicate them.”

The name of the game then is prevention. TPWD uses “Clean, Drain, and Dry” as their mantra for boaters to follow.

CLEAN

TPWD says boaters should clean any of their equipment that has been in the water: boat, trailer, and other equipment like anchors.

DRAIN

Drain the water from your bilge, live wells, motor, bait buckets, or any other water receptacles before you leave the boat ramp.

DRY

Your boat and everything in it, such as tubes and life jackets, should be left to dry completely for at least a week. If you can’t wait that long, TPWD says you should use high-pressure, soapy water to clean everything.

DOCKED BOATS

If you store your boat in the water at an infested lake, such as at a dock or marina, TPWD says it’s likely you have zebra mussels onboard, and moving your boat to a new lake poses an “extremely high risk” for spreading the invasive species with you. Before moving, TPWD says to call them (512) 389-4848 for guidance on decontamination.

The same issue exists with equipment like barges, hoists, pumps, and docks, which also require decontamination before moving.

PENALTIES

Transporting prohibited invasive aquatic species like zebra mussels can result in a $500 citation.

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About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.