Quagga & Zebra Mussel Prevention Program
Zebra and Quagga Mussels are invasive filter feeding bivalves that have infested American waterways. These mussels originate from Eastern Europe and have spread all over the world. Most researchers believe that these small mussels invaded the United States in the 1980's via their planktonic larval stage (veligers) in ballast tanks on commercial vessels entering and dumping water into the Great Lakes. From there, the mussels spread throughout the Eastern United States via connecting waterways and to surrounding lakes on watercrafts. These lakes then became new harbors for the mussels, allowing them to spread even faster. U.S. waterways do not have natural predators or vessels to contain the spread of the mussels, allowing them to thrive in the U.S. In January 2007, Quagga Mussels were discovered in Lake Mead. This marked the first time that either Quagga or Zebra Mussels had moved west of the continental divide. The threat of contamination in California waterways drastically increased with this discovery. In Late 2013, Lake Piru reported the discovery of Quagga Mussels in their lake. This put Quagga Mussels under 100 miles from Cachuma Lake. At this time, Cachuma Lake is Quagga and Zebra Mussel free.
Today, the biggest threats to Cachuma Lake are severe drought and Quagga/Zebra Mussels. We cannot control weather and drought patterns but we can control the spread of Quagga and Zebra Mussels. Due to the discovery of Quagga Mussels in Southern California in 2008, Cachuma Lake has enacted a protocol to stop the spread of Quagga/Zebra Mussels. For motorized boats to get onto Cachuma Lake the watercraft will be visually inspected, making sure the boat is clean, drained and dry. After the boat passes the inspection, they enter a quarantine period of 30 days. The boat is then tagged with a red tag and allowed to leave the park. The tag must not be tampered with or removed until it returns to Cachuma Lake. Upon returning, after 30 days, the boat will be re-inspected to make sure the boat is still clean, drained and dry, and the tag has remained untampered with. After the return inspection, the boat will be allowed onto the water. Once allowed onto Cachuma Lake waters, the vessel will be tagged with a green tag after exiting the water. Canoes and Kayaks are allowed to be same day launched at Cachuma Lake. They must pass an inspection and then be heat pressure washed. This pressure wash includes the outside and inside of the Canoe or Kayak. After the Canoe or Kayak has been washed down, the vessel may now be allowed to launch.
Why the Precaution?
The effects of a Quagga and Zebra mussel infestation on the infrastructure of a reservoir is a major concern. The mussels tend to colonize in pipes, pumps, intakes, and filtration systems in huge numbers. When these components become clogged, it reduces efficiency, puts strain on the equipment, and can ultimately lead to equipment failure. In order to keep these components functional, it costs a lot of money. It is estimated that the U.S. spends billions annually dealing with the removal and treatment of Quagga/Zebra mussel infestations. On top of maintaining the water system, mussels infest docks, dock lines, anchors, boats, and shoreline. These mussels have even ruined once popular beaches due to millions of shells washing up on shore. The soft sand of the beaches is now covered with razor sharp shells. To keep Cachuma Lake from becoming a casualty from a Quagga/Zebra Mussels infestation, our best defense is a stringent prevention policy.
Offsite Boat Inspections
Cachuma Lake is now providing offsite boat inspections by appointment only. The offsite inspection sites are Waller Park, 300 Goodwin Road, Santa Maria, CA 93455 and the Santa Barbara County Parks Maintenance Yard, 4568 Calle Real Bldg E, Santa Barbara, CA 93110. To make an appointment or for further questions, call 805-686-5052.
Remove all plants, animals, and mud from your boat, anchor, boots and other equipment before you enter and after you leave the water. If traveling to another body of water, rinse equipment and boat hulls with high-pressure, hot water at one of the park's hot water wash stations.
Before leaving the park, drain all the water from your boat, including the motor, bilge, livewell, ballast, hull and anything else that traps water. Leave drain plugs out during transport.
Dry all compartments and equipment completely before entering another body of water.
IT'S THE LAW - DON'T MOVE A MUSSEL! A person shall not possess, import, ship, or transport in the state, or place, plant, or cause to be placed or planted in any water within the state, dreissenid mussels.
Resources and Links
- CA Department of Fish & Wildlife
- US Department of Agriculture
- 100th Meridian Initiative
- United States Fish & Wildlife Service