Quagga mussels are tiny shellfish known to attach themselves to soft or hard surfaces. While they pose no threat to human health, they multiply rapidly and can cause damage to watercraft, infrastructure, and lake ecosystems. They could cover rocks at beaches, dock lift mechanisms, pipes in the water treatment systems, boat impellers, piers and docks.
Quagga populations like shallow warm waters and are most active in spring and summer. A small population would do little damage but a large population could make Canyon Lake unusable for recreation in certain areas.
In 2009, Dr. Michael Anderson, from the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UCR, completed a risk assessment of our likelihood of a Quagga infestation. It was determined that Canyon Lake needed intervention at Level 3, the highest level. That is why the City and the POA cooperated to save Canyon Lake from the threat. The POA conducted Saturday education training for boaters to learn about the threat of Quagga.
At this time, there has been no confirmed detection of Quagga mussels or zebra mussels in either Lake Elsinore or Canyon Lake. Stringent monitoring by our community patrol has been underway since 2009. But recently it has been reported in the Press Enterprise that the Santa Ana River, which is piped to Lake Perris, has shown larvae. There is discussion as to whether the larvae are Quagga or zebra mussels. We do know that the Colorado River, Lake Matthews, Lake Havasu, Lake Skinner and Silverwood Lake have had Quagga detected as larvae or adults. Diamond Valley Lake has no Quagga present.
Canyon Lake requires inspections for all boats coming in the gates at the East Gate. If the owner reports having been in the lakes with Quagga mussels present, the boat will be inspected and possibly quarantined. We have had two reports of live detections in the last eight years, one from Lake Mojave and one from a boat sitting inactive in a yard.
Boaters have been extremely cooperative with inspections. They know that if they are merely leaving the gates to gas up or have a tune-up, they get a seal applied to the boat and may return if the seal is unbroken. The California Food and Agriculture border stations have increased their inspections for Quagga mussels to prevent them from traveling to our local lakes by watercraft.
The California Department of Fish and Game recommends boaters take the following steps when leaving a body of water to ensure the mussels don’t unknowingly hitch a ride on the boat or trailer:
– Inspect all exposed areas – Small mussels feel like sandpaper to the touch and typically have striped shells that can be seen.
– Dispose of unused live bate in the trash.
– Wash the hull thoroughly and remove plant and animal debris.
– Drain all water from the watercraft including from the motor, bilges, live wells and bait buckets.
– Thoroughly wash the hull and all water tanks. This is especially important if the watercraft has been moored for more than a day.
– Preferably wash with hot water, high-pressure hose, but if unavailable any portable water source is better than nothing.
– If a trailer was used to remove the watercraft from the water, thoroughly wash the trailer as well.
– Drain all wash water and dry the watercraft and trailer.
– Watercraft should remain dry and out of water for a minimum of five days or longer between launches.
– Exercise patience at watercraft inspections. If you have followed these steps you have improved the likelihood you will breeze through and inspection.
The information in this article was compiled from several sources, including pamphlets from LESJWA, the CA Department of Fish and Game, the Canyon Lake and Marina Committee and Dr. Michael Anderson.