zebra mussels
Zebra & Quagga Mussels (Dreisssena polmorpha & Dreissena bugenis)

An early Christmas present for the Central and West Kootenay Region. Our lakes are invasive mussel free……for now!

The introduction of Zebra and Quagga mussels is the most pressing issue facing the Kootenay region.  Zebra and Quagga mussels have infiltrated lakes and rivers in North America and caused an estimated $43 million in damage per year to hydropower stations, and municipal water supplies. Not to mention what they would do to your favourite swimming hole. They can cover once beautiful beaches in sharp shells as depicted in the photo.

Beach covered with millions of sharp zebra mussels.

Luckily, they are not in B.C. and we want to keep it that way. Prevention is key! Have your boat inspected and follow Clean, Drain, Dry protocol in order to protect our waters.Clean Drain Dry

Next to prevention, the next best tool in our tool box is early detection and this is why we increased sampling frequency in 2018. Weekly plankton sampling for invasive mussels in the region area kicked off in June and ran until the end of October.  The CKISS collected 350 samples at 34 sites within nine different high priority waterbodies. All of the samples sent to a provincial lab to be analyzed came back negative for free-swimming microscopic mussel larvae called veligers.

Nerissa Abbott, a CKISS Invasive Species technician using a plankton net at Gyro Park in Trail to collect samples that get sent to a lab for testing. The lab will test for free-swimming microscopic mussel larvae, called veligers.

This is good news considering mussels cannot be eradicated once established in a waterbody. Invasive mussels can cause all of the following impacts:

  • Clog water supply systems & hydropower facilities, increasing costs to the consumer
  • Harm drinking water quality by causing toxic algae blooms
  • Crash native fish populations such as sockeye salmon
  • Cover beaches with foul-smelling, razor-sharp shells
  • Displace native aquatic plants & wildlife, reducing biodiversity & ecosystem health
  • Increase the growth of aquatic weeds, interfering with swimming and boating opportunities

Invasive mussels are at our doorstep! Now is the time to take action to protect our waters, there is no turning back the clock on a zebra and quagga mussel invasion.

Thanks for your support!

CKISS acknowledges the support of its funders who supported the CKISS mussel monitoring program including, FortisBC, Columbia Power and Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy/Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.