Quagga Mussels Found In Salt River Project Canal System

August 01, 2013

More than a dozen quagga mussels have been discovered in two Valley canals after a routine inspection by Salt River Project officials last month.

mussels Quagga mussels attach to hard surfaces like boats and water pipes. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish Department)

This is the first time the invasive species have made it into the SRP’s canal system. Despite the small number, SRP senior environmental scientist Lesly Swanson is concerned by the discovery.

“Mussels themselves like to grow in and on almost everything,” Swanson said. “And they can grow on one another so they can impact the water delivery system in the sense that they grow in the pipes, they can grow along the side of canals and just affect the delivery itself.”

While the SRP continues to monitor any additional mussel increases, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinator David Britton said it may not be enough. 
He oversees aquatic invasive species for the Southwest Region, which includes Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

“It’s very costly to deal with these invasive mussels, and in fact, it’s almost impossible to eradicate them or get rid of them once they’ve established,” Britton said.

Despite the cost, SRP can remove mussel growth through scraping and draining portions of the canal. The next dry-up is scheduled for November.

Quagga mussels first appeared in Arizona in Lake Meade back in 2007. They have spread along the Colorado River ever since.

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