It’s that time of year again when we look forward to getting out on the water. If you do, be sure to watch out for the STD of the sea. Yes, you heard that correctly. We’re talking about quagga mussels, and the Skiff Transmitted Diseases (STD) they spread. This is a huge problem in Utah, and it’s up to everyone to put in a little extra effort to make sure the diseases they carry are not being spread to other lakes and bodies of water.
Why are mussels bad?
Quagga mussels remove beneficial plankton from the water. This is an important food source for other aquatic organisms, and the entire food chain is impacted when it’s removed. Shorelines become polluted by their shells (which can be sharp and carry a foul odor), and they can damage boats and clog water delivery pipes.
Heading to Lake Powell?
Unfortunately, Lake Powell has already been infested by this invasive species and we need to do everything in our power to prevent it from spreading to Utah’s other lakes. There are some extra precautions that are required of boaters. All boats are required to stop at inspection stations if they are open and operating. You will find these near the ramps at Lake Powell and along the highways in Utah.
When you take your boat out of the water, make sure it is clean of mud, plants, and animals. It is illegal to transport water out of Lake Powell, so you will need to drain all water from the boat, including the engine and any interior compartments. All drain plugs must be removed as you transport your boat. Stop at the inspection station if it is open.
Before you enter another body of water, you will need to abide by one of two options.
Wait a required number of days and certify at your next destination that you have followed the dry-time guidelines:
Note: if your boat has ballast tanks, an inboard motor, or other raw water systems, the dry time will be 30 days regardless of the time of year.
Have your boat professionally decontaminated at a decontamination station. UDWR provides free decontamination at locations throughout the state. You can find a map here.