STD Campaign Launched In Utah: The Story Of Invasive Species

Jul 3, 2014

quagga mussels
Quagga mussels on a boat propeller at Lake Mead.
Credit Natalie Muth / DWR

Quagga mussels. They're calling them a skiff-transmitted disease. They start as a microscopic organism on boats, and then stage a hostile takeover of the environment.

Division of Wildlife Resources' Sarah Seegert says the invasive species is dangerous to waterways and society.

"They can cover the bottom of the reservoirs or the lakes they might be in, but they also filter feed. So they can remove nutrients and organisms from the bottom of the food chain that basically take away food from the fish community. They can also clog pipes and damage infrastructure and water delivery systems," Seegert said.

The mussels reproduce quickly, and are difficult to exterminate. Seegert says using chemicals would damage the environment and other marine populations, and can be cost prohibitive.

"They're very hardy creatures, and so it can take a lot of chemicals to kill them that way, and cleaning and draining and drying is actually the most effective way of killing the mussels, and it also happens to be the easiest and least expensive way," she said.

Lake Powell is the only place this STD of the sea is found in Utah, but Seegert says all boaters should clean their boats after each use.

"We don't know what other invasive species might be there that we haven't discovered yet. So you're not legally required to, but we definitely encourage everybody to clean, drain and dry just as a safe boating practice."

There are many free wash stations across the state, although boaters may also clean their boats themselves. Learn more about quagga mussels and the clean, drain, dry process.