Local lakes constantly checked for foreign mussels

Posted at: 10/23/2013 6:43 PM
By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4

At Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico Game and Fish is seeing if unwanted guests have called the lake home.

James Dominguez, the Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator for New Mexico Game & Fish, checks on water samples at state lakes once a month.

"I'll have the marinas come out or state parks will come out or if I have time I'll come down and I'll check them to see if there's anything growing on them," Dominguez said.

The unwanted guests are bothersome barnacles known as Zebra and Quagga mussels, which are commonly seen in Eastern Europe.

Dominguez's goal is to keep them out of our lakes.

These invasive mussels popped up in the Great Lakes back in the 80s by hitching rides on the bottom of boats, and now have the Land of Enchantment surrounded, with confirmed sightings in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.

They can clog water intake and delivery pipes used to supply drinking water or irrigation to farm lands.

That's why state biologists are testing New Mexico lakes to make sure our water is free of these aquatic hitchhikers

Today, Dominguez collected water samples to determine if mussel  larvae is present, and on this day, no adult mussels were present.

As long as boaters clean, drain, and dry their vessels, our lakes won't test positive for the unwanted mussels!

Microscopic samples will be sent to Boulder and results will be back in a couple of weeks.