New Texas boating regulation takes effect today

Hundreds of zebra mussels can catch a ride on any part of your boat left in the water.
Hundreds of zebra mussels can catch a ride on any part of your boat left in the water.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting on Tuesday, boaters are going to have to take an extra step to clean their vessels if they want to cruise around on different lakes.  The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says people will have to drain all the water in and on the boat before going to a new body of water in Texas.

The department is worried about the spread of Zebra Mussels and other invasive species. The state says it grows to be about one-and-a-half inches and will have a zebra-stripped shell.  The problem is it can also have a million microscopic larvae which like to hide on boats and trailers.

“Unfortunately zebra mussels have a microscopic larval stage that when they get in the water you can’t see and if you have a bunch of water taken out of one lake and you go to the next and you can transport the zebra mussels and that’s one of the main ways they get transported is by boats from lake to lake,” says Ken Kurzawski, Inland Fisheries Division, Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Zebra Mussels can clog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors if they’re left untreated.  It can cover boat hulls if boats and motors are left in infested waters.  Zebra mussels can also block water-cooling systems and pester lake property owners by covering anything that’s under water.

“It’s pretty simple when you get out there is a drain plug on the back of the boats, it’s just a small little plug and it’s out right now because we always drain our boats,” said Santos Ramirez, Keep Austin Wet Watercraft Rentals.

Right now zebra mussels have been found in Lake Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport, Lavon and Belton. and officials are worried the species could spread to Lake Travis and other Highland Lakes.

There’s no evidence it’s a problem down here, but the Lower Colorado River Authority, LCRA,  says it’s monitoring the situation.

In order to combat Zebra Mussels, which are invisible to the naked eye, the new statewide regulation is require water users to clean, drain and dry their boats.


  • Clean boats, personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, sail boats and other water vessels
  • Remove parts and clean
  • Drain all the water from motor, bilge, live wells and bait buckets before leaving lake
  • Dry boats and trailers for a week before going to another body of water
  • Use high-pressure washer with hot water, 140 degrees, and soapy water

The Parks and Wildlife Department also says people fishing also have to be careful.  More information is listed on the state’s website.

If someone is moving their watercraft on the same body of water, the department says that’s okay.  However if caught by the game warden transporting zebra mussels there is a $500 fine. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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