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Health, Science & Environment

DWR Continues Search for Quagga Mussels at Deer Creek Reservoir

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Brian Grimmett
Deer Creek Reservoir

After finding veligers, or baby quagga mussels, in a water sample taken last year, staff from the Utah Department of Natural Resources began testing to determine if the invasive mussel has infested Deer Creek Reservoir.

Out here on the reservoir, staff from the Division of Wildlife Resources are diving into the water to place substrate samplers. They’re basically little pieces of vinyl fencing tied to a buoy.

“What it does is gives it a lot of surface area for anything to settle on," says Jordan Nielson, DWR aquatic invasive species program coordinator. "So if there are veligers floating around in the water, the more surface area we can have under there, the more likely we are to find something that actually settles out and becomes an adult.”

After finding five microscopic veligers in a water sample taken from the lake last year, Nielson and other DWR officials classified Deer Creek as suspect water. That means they’ll collect monthly water samples for at least the next three years. They’ll also be requiring boaters to decontaminate their boats before leaving.

Todd Stonely works for the Utah Division of Water Resources. He says the reason for all of the precautions is because an infestation could have extreme consequences.

“It’s going to impact water suppliers ability to bring water to your farm or your home," Stonely says. "So, it’s going to impact you in some way. Whether you’re going to have to pay increased rates on, for water delivery, treatment, the whole shebang. So, we need Utah citizens support in helping us keeping this critter from spreading.”

Engineers estimate that if Deer Creek Reservoir became infested, it could cost the state as much as $15 million a year in increased maintenance costs. But at this point, officials have not yet found any adult quagga mussels in Deer Creek, and the only known infestation is in Lake Powell

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