(KUTV) — The Utah Department of Natural Resources said more than 100 mussel-infested boats have been found in Utah this year.
Last year at this time, fewer than 10 had been found. Many of them are coming from Lake Powell.
Jordanelle Deer Creek Reservoir is where the Division of Wildlife Resources officials said many boaters are showing up with Quagga mussels on their boats.
“Have you been to Lake Powell?” is one of the questions you’ll be asked when getting ready to go boating at Jordanelle right now.
“I understand the reason behind it, so they are very thorough with their questioning,” said one boater.
Quagga mussels are on the minds of those working at Jordanelle Reservior.
“Definitely a sneaky little critter, they like to hide," said Daniel Oler, a Central Region aquatic invasive species biologist,
It’s his job to make sure the invasive creature doesn’t make it into the Jordanelle Reservoir.
“If there was two healthy mussels — a male and a female — that got past our checkpoint and into the lake, it would be a very big deal,” he said.
It's a big deal because, “people who just drink water, wash their clothes, use a dishwasher, have water at their home — it affects all of them. Whether they fish or they boat, it’s going to affect all the Utah taxpayers if mussels get into this water system," Oler said.
Oler described Quagga mussels as the "STD of the sea."
“They are very good at plugging up water delivery pipe," said Mark Hadley with the DWR.
Quagga mussels were discovered at Lake Powell several years ago, but Hadley said this year they are especially bad — they have expanded across the lake and their numbers have grown.
“The water has dropped quite a bit this year," Hadley said. "We think that might be somewhat of a factor, as well.”
Boaters can be on Lake Powell for just a few hours and mussels will invade, Hadley warned.
“There will be either Quagga mussels attached to the outside of the boat, or they’ve gotten inside the boat into the water intake systems or things," he said.
At Jordanelle, officials have stopped dozens of boats a week, stripping them clean.
“These are the mussels that hitch a ride on your boat, and sometimes you don’t even know that you have them, and you can infest another water body,” Oler said.
The decontaminations are free of charge.
Oler said if the mussels were to get into Jordanelle, it would cost more than $30 million to clean it up — if they could get them out.