AUSTIN — Invasive zebra mussels have been positively identified in Richland Chambers Reservoir, one of the state’s largest inland reservoirs.
TPWD fisheries biologists confirmed the presence of six adult zebra mussels in the reservoir Oct. 18 after receiving an identification report from a couple of young anglers fishing near the dam. The young anglers identified the zebra mussels based on a warning poster they had seen advising boaters to clean, drain and dry.
“At this time it appears to be a pretty low density of zebra mussels and all of the specimens were of similar size, so at this time we cannot say there is a reproducing population in Richland Chambers Reservoir,” said Brian Van Zee, Inland Fisheries Regional Director. “That is why the lake is classified as positive rather than infested, but we do plan to continue to monitor for reproduction.”
Richland Chambers Reservoir is a 44,000-acre impoundment controlled by the Tarrant Regional Water District, located less than 100 miles from Dallas, Waco and Tyler. It is the newest of several water bodies already found positive for zebra mussels in the Trinity River Basin, to include Lake Livingston, Lake Worth, Lavon Lake and Fishing Hole Lake.
The Trinity River Basin also includes several zebra mussel-infested water bodies – meaning they have established, reproducing populations – including Lake Bridgeport, Eagle Mountain Lake, Ray Roberts Lake and Lake Lewisville – and the rivers below these lakes (or portions thereof) are considered positive.
The rapidly reproducing zebra mussels, originally from Eurasia, can have serious economic, recreational and environmental impacts on Texas reservoirs and rivers. Zebra mussels can cover shoreline rocks and litter beaches with sharp shells, clog water intakes, damage or increase maintenance on hydroelectric and other facilities using raw surface water, and damage boats and motors left in infested waters.
Although biologists do not yet know the full extent of the zebra mussel population in Richland Chambers Reservoir, District Fisheries Biologist Richard Ott said boaters need to be diligent in cleaning, draining and drying their equipment every time they leave the water.
“The problem with zebra mussels is that the larvae are microscopic, and that’s what makes it so important that people go through the clean, drain and dry process,” Ott said. “You can’t know for sure if you are carrying zebra mussels, so you need to proceed with an abundance of caution any time you are boating on positive or infested lakes.”
In Texas, it is unlawful to possess or transport zebra mussels, dead or alive. Boaters are required to drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water in order to prevent the transfer of zebra mussels. Zebra mussel larvae are microscopic and both adults and larvae can survive for days in or on boats transported from a lake, especially during cooler fall months. The requirement to drain applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not: personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes or any other vessel used on public waters.
TPWD fisheries biologists will continue to work with the Tarrant Regional Water District to monitor for zebra mussel reproduction and establish signage to notify boaters of the new infestation at Richland Chambers Reservoir.
More information about zebra mussels can be found online at tpwd.texas.gov/ZebraMussels.