Archive for Monday, October 19, 2009

Zebra mussels found in Kansas River; officials concerned about pipe clogs, but water safe

Tiny bivalves don’t affect drinking water, but can potentially wreak other havoc

A Zebra Mussel that was found in the Kansas River is shown with a dime. Several thousand of these mussels have been found in the river. The species’ rapid reproduction and colonization already force municipalities, utilities and other industrial operations nationwide to spend $1 billion a year on control efforts.

A Zebra Mussel that was found in the Kansas River is shown with a dime. Several thousand of these mussels have been found in the river. The species’ rapid reproduction and colonization already force municipalities, utilities and other industrial operations nationwide to spend $1 billion a year on control efforts.

October 19, 2009

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Zebra mussels

Charlie Ballenger, manager of the city's Kaw Water Treatment Plant, discussing the threat posed by zebra mussels.

Related document

Letter from the Kansas Water Office ( .DOC )

Related document

City press release regarding zebra mussels ( .DOC )

Zebra mussels are in the Kansas River, threatening to clog pipes that carry water into the city’s Kaw Water Treatment Plant.

Employees of the treatment plant discovered the typically dime-sized mussels earlier this month while cleaning out an intake.

While the mussels are not expected to affect the quality or safety of the city’s supply of drinking water — they cannot survive the chlorination process used during treatment — the sharp-shelled bivalves could add to the system’s maintenance expenses, said Megan Gilliland, a city spokeswoman.

That’s because the mussels — already known for coating dock piers, boat hulls and motorboat parts — can cause broader problems by covering and clogging a plant’s intake valves, concrete basins and transport lines.

Lawrence’s treatment plant is the first in the state to report the presence of zebra mussels. The species’ rapid-reproduction and stubborn colonization already generate annual nationwide expenditures of $145 million to control mussels in electric generating plants, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

While eradication of the invasive species is considered “nearly impossible” by state wildlife officials, the city envisions using high-pressure water to manage the problem, at least for now.

“In the future we may have to look at additional opportunities for cleaning, and utilization of aggressive mechanical methods to lessen the effect of mussels on our operations,” said Charlie Ballenger, manager of the Kaw plant. “The quality and quantity of water produced will not be affected.”

The first report of the mussels in the United States came in 1988, in the Great Lakes. Since then such mussels have spread into the Midwestern, Northeastern and Southeastern United States.

In Kansas, the state Department of Wildlife and Parks has tracked the mussels’ spread into seven different lakes since 2003: El Dorado, Cheney, Winfield City, Marion, Perry, Afton and — also earlier this month — Wilson, which is 55 miles west of Salina.

The Perry discovery came three years ago, after a boater reported a single mussel affixed to the hull of his boat. State divers then found three adult mussels, plus larvae, in the Marina Cove area.

Gilliland said that zebra mussels likely were transported into the Kansas River by a boat that had been in Perry Lake. Zebra mussels’ larvae are both free-floating and microscopic, making it easy for them to be carried — often unknowingly — by boaters who do not properly clean or otherwise rid their equipment of such a threat.

To prevent the spread of zebra mussels and their larvae from infested waters into other water, officials urge boaters and people who fish to:

• Never move fish or water from one body of water to another.

• Empty bait buckets on dry land, not into lakes.

• Inspect boats, trailers, skis, anchors and all other equipment, and remove any visible organisms and vegetation.

• Wash equipment and boats with hot water (at least 140 degrees) or dry for at least five days, to remove or kill species that are not visible.

The Kaw plant is one of two municipal plants that last year treated and pumped out a combined 3.785 billion gallons of water.

Zebra mussels have not yet been discovered at the city’s Clinton Water Treatment Plant, which gets its raw water from Clinton Lake, Gilliland said.

The Lawrence Energy Center, a coal-fired plant that generates 19 percent of all power for Westar Energy customers, also has a water intake in the Kansas River, upstream from the Bowersock Dam.

Comments

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

Jumping (insert deity name) on a pogo stick! We're all gonna die! Probably not from zebra mussel flu.

Paul Decelles 5 years, 7 months ago

Snap gets the Dr. P snarky award for the day. Unfortunately the article could have done a better job of explaining why zebra mussels are a problem.

See http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/biology/a_zm.html

lounger 5 years, 7 months ago

These mussels have been around a while. Too bad the state doesnt give a rats A*s the other 99.9 percent of the time when the Kansas river needs us. Its filthy and horribly polluted!!!

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 7 months ago

These mussels will actually help clean the Kaw River of pollutants. Many of the Great Lakes are clearer now due to the presence of the Zebra Mussels. And some fisherman are saying it has helped the fish population.

riverdrifter 5 years, 7 months ago

The next Nobel for science should go to someone who figures out how to get rid of the zebra mussel. They are the devil on this earth for reservoirs. We'll see what they do to the Kansas river. And the Missouri. And the Mississippi.

riverdrifter 5 years, 7 months ago

And one more thing: "Gilliland said that zebra mussels likely were transported into the Kansas River by a boat that had been in Perry Lake." Uh, maybe they just slipped out the ol' gate on a lake discharge release? Doh!

audball 5 years, 7 months ago

RidgeRunner-are you saying blue cats are a natural enemy of zebra mussels?

tir 5 years, 7 months ago

This is the part of the story that bothers me:

"The species’ rapid-reproduction and stubborn colonization already generate annual nationwide expenditures of $145 million to control mussels in electric generating plants, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks."

Doubtlessly we will soon be paying higher utility bills to pay for cleaning the intakes of the Kaw water plant and probably also the energy center, because the mussels will likely spread there too, courtesy of some careless person or persons not cleaning off their boats before going out on the river. Thanks a whole bunch.

gphawk89 5 years, 7 months ago

OK, I'm being a bit facetious here, maybe more than a bit, but...

We're talking about using very hot water or high pressure water or chemicals to kill or otherwise remove a living being where it's not wanted. Everyone seems to think this is OK.

Now what would the same folks say if I poured scalding water on, or used a pressure washer on, or poured acid or bleach on a cat? I'd end up in prison and vilified by the media.

Why is it abuse when it happens to a cat or dog, but apparently not when it happens to an unwanted species? Where do we draw the line?

Steve Miller 5 years, 7 months ago

beacuse they are extended family, when have you been able to go to wall mart and buy zebra mussel chow for you mussels ?? go figure..

Glenda Breese 5 years, 7 months ago

GPhawk89..Big difference between a pest and a pet!

bearded_gnome 5 years, 7 months ago

I blame ...

Topeka!

clearly, these little thingys come in our town wih their baggy pants and their muscle music disrupting our way of life.
I say: ban water intakes.

gr 5 years, 7 months ago

"GPhawk89..Big difference between a pest and a pet!"

Are you saying the animal cruelty laws only apply to pets?

gr 5 years, 7 months ago

The KDWP states that "Zebra mussels are NOT spread by birds."

So the key is to find out how birds get rid of them. This is kind of like being surprised that they didn't swim out of Perry on their own. If these larva are on the birds, how do they get rid of them?

If this was so important to kill off another life form, why didn't they drain the lakes that first were found in Kansas and let the mussels die a slow and painful death?

There was some patent I came across that spoke of an easy way for removing them from inlet pipes. Don't recall the details, but it seemed like it was some plant concentrate (pokeweed, I think it was) which caused the mussels to just fall off or at least be weakened.

mistygreen 5 years, 7 months ago

Hmmm...let's see. Should I worry about a zebra mussle being a living creature and being treated humanely? Or should I worry about having water to drink? Water is critical to sustaining life, so guess what..Zebra mussle loses. Sorry, it's the circle of life and we're at the top of the chain. Put that in your glass and drink it!

monheim 5 years, 7 months ago

@gphawk: yawwwwwwn

Surely you can phrase that argument a little better than that. Do you cry when you step on blades of grass, too? This isn't some native species to Kansas that's causing us a problem. These things aren't even native to the US.

Seriously though, you could have phrased an objection so much better, like: Should we just declare all-out war on them? What if it affects the ecosystem? Well....as I just covered, they're not native and are often seen as invasive. I'm sure you drink water every day and I'm sure you can appreciate what kind of problem it'd be to have choked up intake valves to clean your water. Try and think things through a little better before you just go all "Ohhh the poor mussels!"

gphawk89 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't give a flying you-know-what about the mussels. Kill em all, for all I care. Several of you missed the point of my post.

"when have you been able to go to wall mart and buy zebra mussel chow for you mussels?" You can buy fish food at WalMart. The snails in my fish tank bear a striking resemblance to mussels.

gr 5 years, 7 months ago

"Hmmm…let's see. Should I worry about a zebra mussle being a living creature and being treated humanely? Or should I worry about having water to drink? Water is critical to sustaining life, so guess what..Zebra mussle loses. Sorry, it's the circle of life and we're at the top of the chain."

"Surely you can phrase that argument a little better than that. Do you cry when you step on blades of grass, too? This isn't some native species to Kansas that's causing us a problem. These things aren't even native to the US....Try and think things through a little better before you just go all “Ohhh the poor mussels!”

It does seem like there's a consensus that animal cruelty laws do not apply if you have a good reason for not following them.

Can I call you for a witness when I pour scalding water on my dog, when I confine it out in the sun and let it dehydrate, when I pour bleach all over it and justify my actions by saying it was no longer my pet. It was a pest as it chewed up my shoes so I didn't want it anymore. Should I worry about treating it humanely when it destroys that which I consider important in life? Which is more important, me or a destructive dog. Don't go saying, "Ohhh, the poor mutt!" Besides, I'm bigger than that scoundrel. I'm at the top.

mistygreen 5 years, 7 months ago

GR: - that is a very disturbing picture you paint. These zebra mussles are crustaceans , but what you discribe is abuse to animals and it's just plain sick. But if you want to keep these crustaceans around, go ahead. It is not really worth my time and effort to compare animals to crustaceans. Have a wonderful day.

gr 5 years, 7 months ago

"These zebra mussles are crustaceans , but what you discribe is abuse to animals and it's just plain sick. "

And what would you say zebra mussels are? 'well.... they are crustaceans'. So, what are dogs, aren't they canines?

Discriminate about what are animals if you want, but your "warm fuzzies" are laughable at best.

Kind of reminds me of the interview: .... And where does Obama get the money from? well........ I don't know.

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