The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved a new regulation that requires all boats operating on public fresh water anywhere in Texas be drained before leaving or approaching a lake or river to help combat the further spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species. The new measure will take effect July 1.
Currently in effect in 47 North and Central Texas counties, the new rule requires persons leaving or approaching public water to drain all water from their vessels and on-board receptacles. This applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes, or any other vessel used on public waters. TPWD urges all boaters to begin the preventative practice immediately since microscopic larvae (called veligers) hiding in a boat can travel to another water body and cause a new zebra mussel infestation.
The rapidly reproducing mussels, originally from Eurasia, can clog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors left in infested waters by covering boat hulls, block water-cooling systems, completely cover anything left under water, and make water recreation hazardous because of their sharp edges. Zebra mussels also compete with baitfish such as shad for available forage and threaten native mussel populations. Zebra mussels became established in Texas in Lake Texoma in 2009. In 2012, they were found in Lake Ray Roberts and the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. Last year, zebra mussels spread to Lakes Bridgeport, Lavon, Lewisville and Belton. More information, including where water draining regulations are currently in effect, is online at www.texasinvasives.org/zebramussels.
-Betty Dillard firstname.lastname@example.org