Quagga mussels create problems for Lake Mead and boaters


Two menacing sea creatures are plaguing the Lake Mead waters, which is why the Department of Wildlife says it’s keeping a close eye the small mussels causing such a big problem.

“One is called the Zebra Mussel, the other is called the Quagga Mussel — it’s much nastier cousin,” said Doug Nielson with the Department of Wildlife.  They are very small dominative creatures.”

Park rangers say the mussels are clogging pipes and damaging boats in Lake Mead.

Quagga mussels first appeared in the great lakes in the 1980’s.  They started taking over Lake Mead in 2007. 

Nielson says he believes people see more Quagga mussels because the water levels at Lake Mead continue to drop.

Nielson said, “there really isn’t a way to get rid of the Quagga mussels from the lower Colorado River system, which is why park rangers feel like they’re fighting a losing battle.

Although, some Quagga mussels aren’t any larger than a fingernail, size doesn’t matter because they can cause great damage.  They colonize very heavily and each year we’re going to see more of these,” Nielson said.  “It’s not like they reach a point and level out.”

Quagga mussels are originally from Europe.

“The intakes systems and the culinary water has to be protected and monitored and cleaned of Quagga mussels on a regular basis or else we could lose our water supply,” Nielson said.

“It affects everyone at Lake Mead and beyond,” said Theresa Thom, an aquatic ecologist.

While the mussels continue to grow, the department of wildlife is doing everything it can to prevent any further spread of the Quagga mussels.

By installing these wash stations for decontamination at several southern Nevada lakes.

There are two wash stations on Lake Mead and one on Lake Mohave.  Both stations are free and open to the public.

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