Quagga mussels damage Glen Canyon Dam water flow

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We’ll take a look at the intense efforts to keep an invasive mussel from spreading beyond Lake Powell. Quagga mussels damage the Glen Canyon Dam water flow, undercut the ecosystem and cling to boat engines. They also cost millions to contain. This story is part of Elemental, covering sustainability, a collaboration between public TV and radio stations.

TED: A SMALL FRESH WATER MOLLUSK IS CAUSING BIG PROBLEMS AT THE GLEN CANYON NATIONAL RECREATION AREA. THE QUAGGA MUSSEL WAS FIRST IN LAKE POWELL JUST A FEW YEARS AGO BUT IT’S SPREAD TO MOST OF THE LAKE. REPORTER ERIKA ARRINGTON TAKES US TO LAKE POWELL WHERE THE FIGHT AGAINST THE QUAGGA MUSSEL IS HITTING A NEW LEVEL.

PKG: WELL, THIS IS A FLIP-FLOP, IT MAY NOT LOOK LIKE. YOU SEE A STRAP THERE, OVERALL FOOT SHAPE. THIS IS WHAT THE MUSSELS DO. THEY COAT EVERYTHING AND THEY START COATING ON TOP OF THEMSELVES. YOU KNOW, POTENTIALLY EVERY -- POTENTIALLY EVERY SURFACE UNDERWATER COULD GET COATED LIKE THIS AND COULD GET WORSE, EVEN THICKER.

PKG: THEY'RE A FRESH WATER MOLLUSK. THEY'RE ABLE TO FILTER LARGE AMOUNTS OF WATER, SO ESSENTIALLY THEY FILTER THE NUTRIENTS OUT OF THE WATER AND OXYGEN OUT OF THE WATER. ONE QUAGGA MUSSEL IS FILTER UP TO A LITER OF WATER A DAY. WITH THAT, THEY ALSO ARE ABLE TO CAUSE CLARITY IN THE WATER, SO YOU HAVE SUNSHINE THAT IS ABLE TO REACH DOWN INTO PLACES THAT IT NORMALLY WOULDN'T, WHICH WOULD THEN CAUSE OTHER PLANTS AND THINGS TO GROW, ALGAS IN THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE, THAT WOULD NOT BE NORMAL, AND THAT CAN CAUSE OTHER PROBLEMS. HARDEST FOR FOLKS THEY ARE ABLE TO ATTACH IN VERY LARGE NUMBERS AND BE INSIDE ENGINES AND COOLING SYSTEMS. THEY ARE ON THE DOCKS. THEY'RE IN THE DAM, WHERE THEY CAN CUT OFF THE FLOW OF WATER, AND SO FOR WATER USERS, ELECTRICITY USERS, IT BECOMES A COST TO THE TAXPAYER.

PKG: WE WERE DOOMED FROM THAT NOVEMBER IN 2012. SO WE REALLY, REALLY WISH WE DIDN'T HAVE THEM. YOU KNOW, WE DID SO MUCH TO TRY TO KEEP THEM OUT. WE WERE REALLY DISTRAUGHT WHEN WE WERE FIRST SEEING EVIDENCE THAT WOW, THERE WERE MUSSELS IN THE LAKE. THE IMMATURE LIFE STAGE, IT WAS PRETTY CLEAR, NO OTHER EXPLANATION COULD BE MADE FOR WHAT ARE WE SEEING HERE OTHER THAN MUSSELS ARE SOMEWHERE THE LAKE AND STARTING IT REPRODUCE.

PKG: IT WAS VERY EMOTIONAL. WE HAD GIVEN A TREMENDOUS EFFORT WITH NOT ONLY THE MPS BUT STATE PARTNERS AS WELL TO TRY TO PREVENT QUAGGA MUSSELS AT GLEN CANYON.

PKG: HOW AN ORGANISM THAT LIVED IN THE WATER AND GET TO ANOTHER DRAINAGE, THEY CAN'T WALK THERE, THEY CAN'T FLY THERE, THROUGHOUT ALL OF EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY, THAT HASN'T HAPPENED. WE TAKE SOME OF THE WATER ON OUR BOATS AND HAUL IT OVER, THERE WE'RE DOING SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY. SOMETHING THAT HAS BIG CONSEQUENCES AND THE MUSSELS OF ONE OF THEM.

PKG: WE MOVE THESE AROUND. THEY CANNOT DO THIS ON THEIR OWN TO. HELP FOLKS UNDERSTAND WE CAN BE PART OF THE SOLUTION INSTEAD OF THE PROBLEM, IT'S A HUGE ONE. SINCE 2012, WHEN WE FIRST DISCOVERED THAT WE HAD QUAGGA MUSSELS AT GLEN CANYON, STATE PARTNERS HAVE COME TO ASSIST US AT GLEN CANYON AT CONTAINMENT EFFORTS. WE INSPECT BOATS THAT ARE LEAVING. WE PROVIDE DECONTAMINATION TO BOATS THAT ARE HEADED TO OTHER BODIES OF WATERS THAT POTENTIALLY WOULD BE INGESTING ANOTHER BODY OF WATER. WE PROVIDE A TAGGING SYSTEM FOR BOATERS THAT CAN IDENTIFY THEIR BOATS HAVE BEEN CLEANED AND DRAINED AND HAVE LET DRY FOR A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TIME SO THEY'RE SAFE TO LAUNCH IN OTHER BODIES OF WATER.

PKG: QUIT MOVING WATER, WASH AND DRAIN YOUR BOAT EVERY TIME. JUST AS SIMPLE AS THAT.

PKG: WE'VE HAD A TREMENDOUS SUPPORT FROM OUR BOTH COMMUNITY IN REGARDS TO OUR CONTAINMENT EFFORTS. FOLKS HAVE STARTED TO CHANGE THEIR -- THE WAY THEY USE THE LAKE OR WHEN THEY'RE LEAVING THE LAKE, STARTED TO CLEAN THEIR BOATS, DRAIN THEM, LET THEM DRY AND ARE AWARE OF THEIR POTENTIAL OF SPREADING TO OTHER WATERS.

PKG: WHAT ARE THE QUAGGA MUSSELS GOING TO DO? CONTINUE TO SPREAD. AND COME WEST, IF THEY COME WEST, THEY'LL SHOW UP IN LAKE POWELL FIRST.

PKG: MOST FOLKS ARE AWARE OF THE PROBLEM AND THE SPREAD OF THE QUAGGA MUSSELS. MANY LAKES, NOT JUST HERE BUT OTHER BODIES OF WATER HAVE PROGRAMS PUT IN PLACE TO PREVENT THAT SPREAD. IT TAKES EVERYONE, YOU CAN'T JUST BE ONE AGENCY OR OTHER. IT'S A RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERYONE GOING FORWARD. TED: AND BOATERS CAN BE FINED UP TO $5,000 IF THEY DON'T COMPLY WITH THE PARK'S INSPECTION AND CONTAINMENT EFFORTS.

TED: VOTERS CAN BE FINED UP TO $5,000 DOLLARS IF THEY DON’T COMPLY WITH THE PARKS INSPECTION CONTAINMENT EFFORTS. FRIDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," IT'S THE JOURNALISTS' ROUNDTABLE, MORE ON OUR RULING THAT A NEW LAW LIMITING BALLOT PETITION IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND CONGRESSWOMAN MARTHA McSALLY SNUBS SENATOR JOHN McCAIN WHILE SUPPORTING LEGISLATION NAMED IN McCAIN'S HONOR. THOSE STORIES AND MORE FRIDAY ON THE JOURNALISTS' ROUNDTABLE. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

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