SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A mussel that can cause severe environmental damage is causing issues for boaters in Colorado.
The quagga mussel revealed itself in mid-August at Green Mountain Reservoir north of Silverthorne. Monitoring conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation found the creature’s larvae there and officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife called the discovery “very troubling.”
The mussel, like the zebra mussel, can alter the underwater food chain by filtering water and removing plankton and clogging water-intake pipes. The non-native species is branded an aquatic nuisance in Colorado and the region’s waterways.
“It’s supposedly pretty bad stuff if you get it going, you know,” boater Walt Martinez told CBS4.
If quagga mussels get established, they have the ability to drastically alter local ecosystems, degrade water quality and severely damage costly dam structures.
Officials at the reservoir are now beefing up boat inspections and testing.
“It’s something that is necessary. I don’t know how we got it in the first place, but it’s something that needs to be taken care of for sure,” Martinez said.
The stepped up inspections will continue for at least three years as scientists continue to look for more evidence of the mussel.