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Quagga Compliance Improves but Officers Still Concerned

Quagga mussels on a boat prop at Lake Mead
Quagga mussels on a boat prop at Lake Mead

St. George -- Labor Day weekend should be a busy one at boating and fishing waters in Utah. As the weekend nears, Division of Wildlife Resources officers are both happy-and concerned-about what they're seeing at quagga mussel inspection stations in the state.

Since the boating season began, the number of boaters stopping at the mandatory stations has improved. However, too many boaters are still 'blowing past' the stations and risking a ticket. Officers are especially concerned about the station at the St. George port of entry. The port of entry is off Interstate 15, just south of St. George. Watercraft traveling north on I-15 must stop at it.

From April 14 through July 10, a total of 2,330 watercraft stopped at the port. About 514 didn't stop.

"Many of the boats that are traveling north on I-15 are coming from Lake Mead and other waters in Nevada," says DWR Lieutenant Scott Dalebout. "These waters are heavily infested with mussels."

DWR officers pull over and ticket as many boaters as they can. But there aren't enough officers to watch the port of entry all the time.

"The key to keeping quagga mussels out of Utah, and keeping mussels that are in Lake Powell from spreading to other waters," Dalebout says, "is complete and total support from the public. Please stop at the mandatory stations. Please do the right thing."

If quagga mussels get into Utah's waters, every person in the state could be affected.

"Our biggest concern is the water infrastructure in the state," Dalebout says. "Everything from drinking water to irrigation water to water treatment facilities would be affected. We absolutely must do everything we can to keep these mussels from getting into and spreading in Utah."

You can learn more about how you can help--by properly cleaning, draining and drying your boat--at www.stdofthesea.com.

Still not good enough

Mandatory quagga mussel inspection stations are found at four locations in Utah. Since the boating season began, compliance rates have improved at all of them. But, the rates-especially at the station south of St. George-still arenít good enough:

Compliance rate is 80 percent.

Compliance rate is approximately 85 percent.

Compliance rate is 90 percent.

Compliance rate is 95 percent.

Why the concern?

There are many reasons why the DWR and its partners want to keep quagga mussels, and their cousins, zebra mussels, out of Utah:

If mussels get into water pipes in Utah, it will cost millions of dollars to try to remove them. If you live in Utah, you'll likely pay higher utility bill costs to pay for the removal attempts.