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Wash, dry, repeat to prevent spread of zebra mussels

July 23, 2018 | Jodi Baker | environment, how does that work
zebra mussels

If you’re hitting the water in boats in jet skis this summer, be careful you’re not bringing unwelcome guests home with you. Zebra mussels are in our area, and they can do lots of damage.

Adult zebra mussels are only about the size of a thumbnail, but they multiply quickly. In fact, females can lay over a million eggs in one spawning season. And here’s where they could become a major problem for OPPD and other utilities. Zebra mussels like to attach themselves to hard surfaces, and as they multiply, can clog up the water-intake equipment power plants use for electricity generation.

OPPD currently has two active plants along the Missouri River – Nebraska City Station and North Omaha Station. That’s why the district’s environmental specialists routinely patrol the river and collect water samples, looking for the tiny freshwater mollusks.

“If we find zebra mussels, we need to take action to ensure that they do no create an infestation in our power plants,” said Patrick Finigan, environmental affairs administrator for OPPD. “But treatment can be very costly.”

He said the public can help lower the risk of infestation by taking these steps:

  • Drain water from boat crevices and any other equipment holding water. If you can’t drain all of the water, a cup of diluted bleach will kill zebra mussels.
  • Clean the bottom of boats to remove any traces of plants, animals, fish and mud. If possible, use a power washer on boats and their trailers.
  • Dry boat, trailer and equipment completely before heading to other bodies of water. It is recommended that boaters wait 48 hours between water bodies, since that’s about how long zebra mussels can live outside of water.

More tips are available online from the Nebraska Invasive Species Program.

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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. Jodi earned her degree in broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She's worked for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to sunny San Diego. She’s married with two bright and energetic children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier. She and her husband enjoy catching up on some grown-up DVR time once the kiddos are asleep.

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