FIGHTING THE SPREAD OF AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES – LAKE HAVASU CITY, ARIZONA

mussel-cartoon-artWhat other information resources are available for current Aquatic Invasive Species updates?

An excellent in-depth source for AIS information can found on this website: http://www.westernais.org

Does Lake Havasu have invasive species/quagga mussels?

Yes.  Quagga mussels were initially discovered in the lower Colorado River (Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, and Lake Havasu) in early 2007.  About a year later, quagga mussels were found in numerous lakes and reservoirs in California, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Once a body of water is invested with quagga mussels, is there any proven way to eradicate them?

Not at this time.  Researchers are working on solutions, but none as yet have been found.

What harm do quagga mussels do to a water supply and the environment?

Quagga mussels reproduce at an incredible rate and quickly attach themselves to virtually anything that is in contact with the water.  They especially cause damage to boats, marine engines, marina/docks and water delivery/irrigation systems by clogging passage ways.  They are filter feeders, removing phytoplankton, zooplankton and algae from the water which are vital nutrients for fish populations.

Why is it so important that boaters ‘clean, drain and dry’ their boats every time they are put back on the trailer?

Quagga mussels can attach themselves to virtually any portion of a boat/trailer that comes in contact with the water, even for only a very short period of time.  This also includes things inside a boat like  anchors, anchor lines, bait tanks, storage lockers, the bilge, and water ballast tanks/bladders on wakeboard boats.  Even raw water-cooled engines and drive units that are not drained can sustain live quagga mussels for as long as several weeks depending on weather conditions and temperature.  It is imperative that boaters thoroughly clean and dry their hull and trailer after every use (fresh water and a good chemical cleaning agent or a vinegar and water mix is highly recommended).  Drain plugs must also be pulled and the bilge made completely dry.  If this is not done, veligers (microscopic larvae, so small they may not be visible to the naked eye, smaller than a flea) may still be present on the boat/trailer and can contaminate other bodies of water.

Do I have to pull my drain plugs when trailering my boat?

Yes you do, it is now an Arizona law that boats must remove their drain plugs during transport and you may get cited and required to pay a fine for a violation.

How long can quagga mussels live on/in my boat/trailer when it is out of the water?

Quagga mussels are temperature sensitive.  During cooler winter months, adult quagga mussels have been known to live as long as 30 days.  In most cases 18 days is a safe quarantine period.  During extreme summer temperatures, 5 days may be an adequate margin.

Why did the Lake Havasu Marine Association and Arizona Game and Fish Department come up with the “Sticker A Mussel” campaign and what does it accomplish?  

“Sticker A Mussel” is a totally voluntary program on the part of boaters.  The purpose of the “sticker” on the tongue of the trailer is to remind boaters to be responsible and ‘clean, drain and dry’ their boats whenever they leave the water.  For Havasu/Parker boaters who are travelling across state borders (Arizona to California), they will most likely pass through one of two California Agricultural inspection stations (at Vidal Junction or Needles).  Inspectors will be checking boats/trailers for evidence of invasive species.  If you have a “sticker”, it is a visual cue to inspectors that the owner of that boat is aware of the invasive species problem and has basic knowledge of the proper protocol necessary to stop the spread.  The “sticker” is not a free-pass, but it will most likely reduce the delay time for inspection.

Where and how do I get a “sticker” for my boat/trailer?

There are over fifty locations in the Lake Havasu City area (boat manufacturers, boat dealers, repair/service shops, launch ramps, waterfront hotels/restaurants, etc.) that have “stickers.”  Bring your boat to one of those locations (“sticker” locations listed on http://www.lhmarineassn.com), and you will be given a brief (3-5 minutes) instruction on how to properly ‘clean, drain and dry’ your boat.  Once you have received that instruction, a “sticker” (at no charge) will be placed on your trailer tongue.

What happens if my boat/trailer fails to pass inspection at one of the California Agricultural border stations?

Depending on the violation, you may be subject to a fine and/or the boat may be quarantined, or the inspector may deny you access across the border.

What happens if I travel to a non-contaminated lake and my boat fails to pass inspection before launching?

First, you will not be allowed to launch your boat and in most cases asked to go to an official decontamination station where your boat will be cleaned by trained professionals with a high-pressure hot water wash.

Does Lake Havasu City have decontamination stations?

Quagga mussel decontamination is presently available in Lake Havasu at Lake Havasu State Park (Windsor Launch). The Windsor decontamination station is located within the park (not directly at the launch ramp).  It is not mandatory that boaters use this station everytime when they go boating.  The decontamination station’s primary function is to clean boats that clearly show signs of quagga mussel contamination, have been in-water for five or more consecutive days, or that are planning to travel to other bodies of water where invasive species inspections will be required. To use the Lake Havasu State Park decontamination center, please make an appointment with Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Remember….it’s the right thing to do, and always trailer your boat with the drain plugs removed from the hull.