Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issues zebra mussels warning

(Photo by Nestor Montoya)

WACO, Texas (KWTX) The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is warning Central Texas residents about an invasive species that poses a threat to bodies of water.

Zebra mussels arrived to Central Texas in 2012 when the species was introduced in Lake Belton.

The mussels overpopulate, and latch on to hard surfaces like boats and rocks.

John Tibbs with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said aside from overrunning the landscape, the mussels can cause harm to aquatic life.

"Zebra Mussels filter all of the nutrients out of the water. When they filter out all the nutrients, those nutrients aren't available for other plants and animals to use," said Tibbs.

Tibbs said the mussels have also spread to Stillhouse Hollow Lake and Canyon Lake near San Marcos.

He said boaters transport the mussels when they move their vessel from one body of water to another.

"Containing the spread of zebra mussels is the responsibility and in fact can only be done by the general public," said Tibbs.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department joined forces with the City of Waco to implement their clean, drain dry campaign as a way to help prevent the species from spreading to Lake Waco.

"You need to clean the boat of any foreign matter that's on it. You need to drain all of the water out of the engine and out of the boat itself, all of the compartments, and then you need to dry it before you take it to another reservoir."

Mitchell Kronwinkler is one of the interns hired by the city to help raise awareness about zebra mussels to other boaters.

Kronwinkler and others are stationed at different parts of Lake Waco conducting surveys and boat inspections.

"We're out here just inspecting boats and asking people questions on if they know anything about Zebra Mussels or are they informed on Zebra Mussels, and we're trying to keep it from polluting this lake," said Kronwinkler.

Recent comprehensive testing found no evidence of zebra mussel presence or spawning in Lake Waco.