DWR discovers more efficient way to decontaminate boats from quagga mussels

May 15, 2024, 6:59 PM | Updated: 7:55 pm

PAGE, Ariz. — After boaters at Lake Powell regularly spent hours in a decontamination line to rid their boats of quagga mussels, the Utah Divison of Wildlife Resources discovered a way to condense that line to just minutes.

Garret Atwood and his friend and business partner Jonas Hyita said their trips to the lake would always end the same way.

“Everybody’s tired, there’s lots of sun, and so we would get in line to go get decontaminated and inspected,” Atwood said. “And the lines get long, and it’s — you know you just don’t want to sit there. And then by the time you get up there, it takes like an hour.”

The solution the DWR developed is a dip tank that decontaminates the boats and kills quagga mussels. Boaters can run it through the system for only minutes before heading back out.

A quagga dip tank at Lake Powell, as a boat enters the tank to be decontaminated from quagga mussels. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Lt. Bruce Johnson is over DWR’s aquatic invasive species operations, and he said speed and efficiency are important in helping boaters act responsibly.

“We have the confidence in knowing that we have more completely and thoroughly eliminated that threat of quagga mussels,” he said. “Water is one of our most important resources and if we lose that battle with quagga mussels, we’re going to have plugged water lines, infrastructure …”

Johnson said therefore most boaters want to keep waters clear of quagga mussels too. He said the mechanism of the tank targets late-stage larvae, but it’s efficient for adults too.

“Most of these decontaminations that we’re doing in the dip tank are targeting the veligers. However, the 110 degrees at a five-minute exposure will 100% kill adult quagga mussels as well.”

Now, there are five tanks statewide, and one more on its way to Flaming Gorge.

“It’s nice to see that it’s fast. There’s not a line. There’s usually a queue of maybe one or two boats on a busy day, and they get you in and out of there, you know, ten minutes,” Atwood said.

DWR biologists warned boaters not to drop an anchor at Lake Powell and put it back inside the boat, for risk of quagga mussels ending up on life jackets or other items. They also said to ensure sea strainers are removed and dried completely after use.

Contributing: Mary Culbertson

KSL 5 TV Live

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DWR discovers more efficient way to decontaminate boats from quagga mussels