Central Kootenay Waterbodies Clear of Invasive Mussels: Testing Yields Negative Results

The Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS) proudly announces that Central Kootenay waterbodies remain free of the invasive zebra and quagga mussels, thanks to the ongoing efforts of the B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program. The latest sampling results, conducted between June and the end of October, revealed a clean bill of health for all 10 waterbodies tested, marking the eleventh consecutive year of success in the region.

Staff and contractors from CKISS undertook the crucial task of collecting 267 samples from local lakes and rivers, including Upper and Lower Arrow, Kootenay, Duncan, Slocan, Summit, and Whatshan Lakes, as well as the Columbia, Kootenay, and Slocan Rivers (upper and lower). These samples were analyzed at a B.C. Government designated lab – all results tested negative for the presence of zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena rostriformis bugenis).

CKISS staff collecting water samples from Arrow Lakes on a beautiful summer day.

The significance of this result cannot be overstated, as invasive mussels, once established in a waterbody, become virtually impossible to eradicate. CKISS remains steadfast in its commitment to preserving the ecological balance and natural beauty of the Central Kootenay region through continuous lake monitoring and outreach activities.

The threat of zebra and quagga mussels (ZQM) looms large, with potential devastating impacts on the environment, economy, and social fabric of the Kootenay region and beyond. These invasive mussels have the ability to displace native aquatic plants and wildlife, leading to a reduction in biodiversity and ecosystem health. Furthermore, they can transform once pristine beaches into unsightly landscapes, covered in foul-smelling, razor-sharp shells, disrupting summer activities.

Picture-perfect beach threatened: Introducing zebra or quagga mussels could turn this pristine haven into a shell-covered landscape, disrupting summer fun with foul smells and razor-sharp shells. Let’s protect our shores! Photo: McDonald Creek Provincial Park – Arrow Lakes

ZQM possess unique characteristics that make them particularly challenging to control. Their ability to attach to hard surfaces and survive for extended periods out of the water increases the risk of spreading between waterbodies. The CKISS emphasizes the crucial role of preventive measures, urging watercraft users to Clean, Drain, and Dry boats and equipment when moving between waterbodies.

Tiny but Troublesome: Zebra Mussels, ranging from 1 mm to 3 cm in size as fully grown adults. Recognized by their brown or cream-colored shells adorned with jagged brown or black stripes. The D-shaped shells spell trouble, causing local extirpation of native mussel populations and filtering water to the point of removing crucial food sources like plankton. Their impact extends to fish, wildlife, drinking water, and even recreational activities, posing risks to swimmers with their sharp shells. The hidden costs? Increased expenses in maintaining power generation, sewage, and water facilities Photo:Amy Benson

The CKISS calls on all individuals bringing motorized or non-motorized watercraft into British Columbia to contact the B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program. This proactive step will help determine if a boat is high-risk and should undergo inspection and potential decontamination before accessing B.C.’s lakes and rivers. If you are transporting a watercraft in B.C., you must stop and report to all invasive mussel watercraft inspection stations along your travel route. Watercraft includes sailboats, motorboats, car toppers, kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards being transported in B.C. For more information about the B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program, visit www.gov.bc.ca/invasivemussels.

In the face of this persistent threat, the CKISS remains dedicated to safeguarding Kootenay waterbodies and encourages public cooperation in the ongoing battle against invasive mussels.

CKISS recognizes the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and the Province of British Columbia for making significant financial contributions to support the Invasive Mussel Defence Program. These lake monitoring efforts support the Province’s ongoing delivery of the Invasive Mussel Defence Program.

CKISS would also like to recognize the contribution of the Columbia Power on this project.