If you boat on two popular waters in Utah, you need to be aware of two major changes. In addition to stopping at all mandatory inspection stations that are open, you must do the following to prevent spreading quagga mussels:
Fines for knowingly transporting a boat that has mussels attached to it are steep: a Class A Misdemeanor with fines up to $1,950 and restitution to the DWR for any costs incurred to decontaminate and quarantine your boat.
You can learn more about dry times by clicking on the tab labeled Dry at www.stdofthesea.com.
Nate Owens, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the DWR, says the Utah Wildlife Board recently approved the changes to lessen the chance that quagga mussels are moved from Lake Powell or Deer Creek to another body of water.
Owens says juvenile mussels called veligers have not been found at Deer Creek since they were initially discovered in October 2014. If biologists don't find mussels at the reservoir this year, the water will be declared free of mussels in 2018.
Lake Powell is a different story. “Quagga mussels are spreading in the reservoir," Owens says. "We're very concerned about mussels from Lake Powell ending up in other waters in Utah. The laws the board approved should reduce the chance that happens."
Even if you've been boating on a water other than Deer Creek or Lake Powell, Owens encourages you to pull the drain plugs on your boat and to leave them out, until you get home.
"Many boaters pull the plugs on the launch ramp or in the parking lot," he says. "Once the water drains, they replace the plugs and travel home."
Owens says the problem with that approach is water that's "hiding" in the upper reaches of the boat. It takes awhile for this water to drain. If you replace the plugs too soon, the water that drains will be trapped in the bottom of your boat.
"If quagga mussels are in the water," he says, "they'll stay alive while you transport them. If you leave the plugs out, the water that might have mussels in it will drain as you drive down the road."
There are many reasons why the DWR and its partners want to keep quagga mussels, and their cousins, zebra mussels, out of Utah:
If mussels get into water pipes in Utah, it will cost millions of dollars to try to remove them. If you live in Utah, you'll likely pay higher utility bill costs to pay for the removal attempts.