Quagga Mussels: Why You Should Care

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In 2007…

The first quagga mussel population was found in the Colorado River system in Lake Mead. Since 2007, these invasive fresh water mollusks have spread to 43 lakes in California. They are still getting closer. The quagga/zebra mussel threat is still very real for Big Bear Lake. Quagga mussels have been sighted as close as the Upper San Gabriel River, Lower Piru Creek, Pyramid Lake, and the Angeles Tunnel which connects Lake Silverwood to Lake Perris. Unfortunately many believe that the invasion of quagga or zebra mussels into Big Bear Lake is inevitable, and without your help it may be. However, the District believes that its quagga prevention program, its staff, and boaters and visitors like you can keep the mussels at bay. The District has received grant funding from the Division of Boating and Waterways since 2014 to help bolster its quagga/zebra mussel infestation prevention program. The District has installed two new decontamination units and an additional catchment drain pad at the East Launch Ramp to process double the amount of decontaminations. The District has been able to purchase new education material and signage to help spread the word about the mussels’ threats to new and returning visitors. The District also holds an annual class to certify anyone interested to become a Level I watercraft inspector - - all marina staff and lake front homeowners with launch ramps are required to attend!

The District still needs your help in defending the lake from quagga and zebra mussels. All vessels should arrive at the lake clean, drained, and dry. This means not only motorized boats but kayaks, canoes, float tubes, stand-up paddle boards, and inflatable kayaks and rafts. These non-motorized vessels require an inspection and a lake use permit which can be provided at any of the launch facilities on Big Bear Lake. Please do not launch your non-motorized vessel without an inspection by District or marina staff. It is quick and easy and it ensures YOU are not the person who ruins Big Bear Lake forever by introducing quagga or zebra mussels!

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New Quagga / Zebra Mussel Discoveries in California - - Click Here for the Most Recent Map

Information regarding newly discovered quagga / zebra mussel infestations in California will be posted on this web page. These discoveries are a developing situation; more information will be forthcoming and shared as it is available. Please refer to the Quagga and Zebra Mussel Sightings Distribution in California map (PDF) for the most up-to-date list of confirmed locations.

 October 2017 - Upper San Gabriel River

 October 27, 2017 - Summary of Discovery

On October 27, 2017, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) notified the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) that MWD had been delivering raw water from the East Branch of the State Water Project (SWP) through the Rialto Pipeline and the Glendora Tunnel to its USG-03 service connection since August 3, 2017. This water is released into the upper San Gabriel River and then flows through the natural riverbed and concrete-lined channels into the San Gabriel Canyon and Santa Fe Spreading Grounds operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (LACDPW) for groundwater recharge.

On October 25, 2017, MWD detected quagga mussel veligers at the USG-03 service connection. Veligers were identified by MWD using microscopy and confirmed by PCR and DNA sequencing. Additional veligers were detected at USG-03 on October 26, 30, and 31, and in the upper San Gabriel River on October 26 and 31. Downstream agencies and the LACDPW were notified by MWD immediately and water delivery at USG-03 was stopped on October 31. 

An operational review clearly indicates that these veligers originated from Colorado River Aqueduct (CRA) supplies and not from the SWP. An unplanned operational issue resulted in CRA water flowing into the Glendora Tunnel, mixing with the SWP supply, and being released at USG-03 for approximately 12 days. At the time of release, all of the river flow was diverted into LACDPW’s Santa Fe Spreading Grounds and no downstream waterbodies were impacted by this release.

Upon learning of the release, MWD immediately implemented a control and mitigation plan in cooperation with multiple water agencies and the LACDPW. These measures included flushing and chlorinating the affected pipelines, and desiccating the groundwater recharge basins. Monitoring of multiple downstream locations has shown no veliger detections since the initial sightings on October 26 and 31, 2017. This was a transient event and there is currently no evidence of quagga mussels in the San Gabriel River.

All released water from Morris Dam and USG-3 will be fully contained by the LACDWP’s rubber dam and diverted into the Santa Fe Spreading Grounds facility until follow-up monitoring can be conducted to determine whether mussels have spread to the San Gabriel River.

For questions that are specific to MWD, please contact Paul Rochelle, Microbiology Unit Manager, at (909)392-5155. For questions regarding CDFW's response, please contact CDFW's hotline at (866) 440-9530.

 

October 2017 - Lower Piru Creek October 17, 2017 - Summary of Discovery

On October 17, 2017, United Water Conservation District (UWCD) notified the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) that their staff discovered 18 adult quagga mussels on cobbles in the Lower Piru Creek, Ventura County, approximately ¼ mile upstream of the confluence with the Santa Clara River. CDFW staff have visually identified the specimens as quagga mussels.

Lake Piru releases water into Lower Piru Creek. Lower Piru Creek flows into the Santa Clara River approximately 6 miles below Lake Piru’s Santa Felicia Dam. Adult mussels were discovered in Lake Piru in December 2013. In January 2014, adult mussels were discovered in Lower Piru Creek, below the Santa Felicia Dam. In August 2017, adult mussels were discovered in Santa Clara River downstream of the confluence with Lower Piru Creek.

For questions that are specific to UWCD, please contact Anthony Emmert, Deputy General Manager, UWCD, at (805) 525-4431. For questions regarding CDFW's response, please contact CDFW's hotline at (866) 440-9530.

 

August 2017 – Santa Clara River August 30, 2017 - Summary of Discovery

On August 23, 2017, United Water Conservation District (UWCD) notified the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) that their staff had surveyed six locations along the Santa Clara River downstream of the confluence of Lower Piru Creek, Ventura County. Their staff discovered one adult quagga mussel on the Torrey Road Bridge, Piru, California, and twelve adult quagga mussels on the 12th Street Bridge, Santa Paula, California. UWCD reported that all quagga mussels detected during the surveys were attached to vertical structures in shaded areas with slow-flowing to still water. UWCD did not discover mussels at any of the other four locations surveyed. UWCD and CDFW have visually identified the specimens as quagga mussels.

CDFW staff surveyed a portion of the Santa Clara River on August 26, 2017. CDFW did not discover mussels at the location surveyed. A plankton sample was collected and sent to CDFW's laboratory for analysis; sample results were negative.

For questions that are specific to UWCD, please contact Anthony Emmert, Deputy General Manager, UWCD, at (805) 525-4431. For questions regarding CDFW's response, please contact CDFW's hotline at (866) 440-9530.

 

February 2017 – Santa Ana Pipeline February 24, 2017 - News release (Department of Water Resources)

Invasive Mussel Veligers Detected in the Santa Ana Pipeline; State Conducting Further Testing (PDF)
SACRAMENTO – Mussel veligers (microscopic, free-floating larval life stage) this month were detected in water samples collected at the North Park valve of the Santa Ana Pipeline, which transports water from Silverwood Lake, San Bernardino County, to Lake Perris, Riverside County. Further testing is under way by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to confirm the findings and determine if the veligers are quagga mussels or zebra mussels...

 

December 2016 – Pyramid Lake, Angeles Tunnel, Castaic Power Plant, Elderberry Forebay, Castaic Lake, Castaic Lagoon

August 30, 2017 - Updated Information Regarding Discovery

On December 13, 2016, Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) staff inspected the Angeles Tunnel again and ten additional dead quagga mussels were detected. The mussels range from 13-33 mm, similar in size to the six mussels initially discovered on December 8. Staff also inspected the drainage water in the Pyramid Dam stream release access chamber and in Middle Piru Creek immediately below the dam; no mussels were detected.On December 14, 2016, DWR and MWD staff collected plankton tow samples on Pyramid and Castaic Lakes. Samples were sent to Scripps and MWD laboratories for analysis; sample results were all negative. At Pyramid Lake, staff also inspected spillway buoys, outlet tower buoys, settlement plates, and two Sherriff boats that were pulled from the water; no mussels were detected. At Castaic Lake, settlement plates and rocky shoreline near the inlet were inspected; no mussels were detected. The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation divers dove in Castaic Lake and inspected hard substrates such as buoys and anchor cables; no mussels were detected.

On December 20, 2016, remote operated vehicle (ROV) inspection of Pyramid Angeles Tunnel intake was inspected to a depth of approximately 300 feet. One mussel was observed and appeared to be alive.

On January 4, 2017, MWD inspected their Foothill Hydro Electric Plant just downstream of Castaic Lake. The plant has several strainers and filters that were removed, and their contents returned to the lab for inspection; no mussels were detected.

All subsequent sampling conducted to date has been negative.

 

On December 14, 2017 (not December 15, 2017 as previous reported), MWD and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) inspected the dewatered Elderberry Forebay  . Two adult quagga mussels were discovered at the Castaic Power Plant at the northern end of Elderberry Forebay. Laboratory analysis conducted by MWD corroborated the visual species identification. MWD inspected the dewatered outlet tower and dam of the Elderberry Forebay; no mussels were detected.

December 16, 2016 - Summary of Discovery

On December 8, 2016, six adult quagga mussels were discovered by California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in the Angeles Tunnel, a pipeline that moves water from Pyramid Lake to Elderberry Forebay and subsequently Castaic Lake (Los Angeles County). Laboratory analysis conducted by CDFW corroborated the visual species identification made by DWR staff. Based on this discovery the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) considers Pyramid Lake to be infested with quagga mussels.

On December 15, 2016, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) discovered two adult quagga mussels at the Castaic Power Plant at the northern end of Elderberry Forebay, which is currently dewatered. Specimens have been sent for laboratory analysis to corroborate the visual species identification.

Given the connectivity of the waterbodies, CDFW presumes that Castaic Lake and Castaic Lagoon have been exposed to mussels and warrant management actions be taken comparable to those where adult mussels have been found.

DWR, the manager of Pyramid and Castaic lakes, and LADWP, manager of Castaic Power Plant and Elderberry Forebay, are implementing actions to contain the infestation and managing exiting watercraft to prevent the movement of quagga mussels and infested water. DWR and local agencies are conducting additional surveying to determine the extent of the infestation. CDFW will continue to work with DWR and LADWP to delineate the infestation and develop a control plans for the infested waterbodies.

Boaters at these waterbodies, as well as all other waterbodies, should continue to clean, drain, and dry their watercraft and equipment after every visit. Waterbodies with prevention programs screening for high-risk watercraft should consider Pyramid Lake, Elderberry Forebay, Castaic Lake, and Castaic Lagoon infested waters and manage watercraft originating from these waterbodies accordingly.

For questions that are specific to DWR’s response, please contact Doug Carlson, DWR Information Officer, (916) 653-5114 or Ted Thomas, DWR Information Officer, (916) 653-9712. For questions regarding CDFW’s response, please contact CDFW’s hotline at (866) 440-9530.

 

Funding for quagga and zebra mussel infestation prevention activities has been provided through an agreement with the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways. The contents of this web page do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation of their use.

Funding for quagga and zebra mussel infestation prevention activities has been provided through an agreement with the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways. The contents of this web page do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation of their use.