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Quagga Mussel Veliger discovery at Deer Creek Reservoir


Quagga mussels on a boat hull at Lake Mead
Quagga mussels on a boat hull

Two independent tests

On Oct. 30, 2014, a Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) water quality sampling crew collected water samples across Deer Creek. The water samples were later analyzed by a BOR lab.

On Dec. 12, lab technicians, looking through a microscope, found what appeared to be five quagga mussel veligers in a sample taken near the dam. The DWR requested that the samples be genetically analyzed to learn whether they were in fact quagga mussels. Through DNA testing, both the BOR lab and Pisces Molecular, a private third party, confirmed that the veligers were quagga mussels.

Where did they come from?

Nielson says it's impossible to know where the veligers came from. "The lower end of Lake Powell," he says, "as well as other reservoirs on the lower Colorado River, have a rapidly growing population of quagga mussels. It's possible that someone who was boating on a lake with quagga mussels accidentally brought the veligers to Deer Creek. We'll never know for sure."

Why the concern?

If a quagga mussel population establishes itself in Deer Creek Reservoir, residents in Salt Lake County and Utah County, as well as anglers and those who enjoy recreating at the reservoir, have plenty of reasons to be concerned. For example, quagga mussels can:

Clean, drain and dry

Nielson says you must do the following after leaving a quagga-infested water such as Lake Powell, or any body of water in Utah: