Invasive zebra mussels infest Lake Georgetown

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports an infestation of zebra mussels in Lake Georgetown Nov. 13, 2017 (TPWD Photo)
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports an infestation of zebra mussels in Lake Georgetown Nov. 13, 2017 (TPWD Photo)

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Lake Georgetown is the latest reservoir in Central Texas to be infested with the invasive zebra mussels. It’s the fourth reservoir in the region to be classified as infested this year.

Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists discovered zebra mussel larvae in water samples Oct. 27, and they found young zebra mussels attached to rocks on the shoreline on Nov. 6.

“This is very unfortunate news because as recently as spring 2017 all routine plankton samples have tested negative for zebra mussel larvae and we hadn’t found any juveniles or adults,” said Brian Van Zee, TPWD inland fisheries regional director. “It just goes to show how rapidly zebra mussels can colonize and establish themselves in our lakes once they are introduced.”

The department is asking anyone living at Lake Georgetown or other bodies of water nearby to report any other sightings of the mussels.

Zebra mussels can ruin shorelines, hurt aquatic life and damage boats, according to TPWD. It can also wreak havoc on hardware.

“The biggest impacts are to the water management authorities who sell water and move water through pipes, these things will clog up pipes,” said Marcos De Jesus with the Texas Parks and Wildlife. “They will cost a ton of money to keep it maintained and clean. And that cost could be then transcribed to the user.”

It’s illegal for people to possess or transport them, either dead or alive. Their larvae are microscopic and both adults and young can survive for days in or on boats, especially in cooler months, which is why boaters, kayakers and paddle boarders must drain their water craft before leaving or heading to any bodies of fresh water. There will be posted signs in the Lake Georgetown area to remind people to do that.

TPWD also changed the status of Lake Livingston north of Houston to be fully infested with the creatures.

There are 13 lakes infested with the mussels in Texas, and they were first spotted in the state in 2009. In August they were found in Lake Austin, and in June biologists discovered a healthy population in Lake Travis.

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