Legislation authored by Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) has received the approval and signature of the Governor. SB 215 will allow the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to continue with an aggressive strategy they put into place to combat the spread of dreissenid mussels in state waterways. The Huff measure is aimed specifically at quagga and zebra mussels.
“My thanks to the Governor for his support and recognition that California needs an aggressive program that has shown success with eradicating the mussel threat before they can become uncontrollable and destructive,” said Senator Huff. “If we didn’t allow the DFG to continue with this aggressive control strategy, dreissenid mussels will colonize with alarming speed and cause major harm to our state waterways.”
Dreissenid mussels attach to and rapidly colonize boat hulls, piers and water intake pipes. They reproduce quickly and in huge numbers. They have been found in the Colorado River system and in aqueducts, waterways and reservoirs in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Imperial and San Benito Counties. Metropolitan Water District has already mounted a multi-million dollar defense, but they can’t fight it alone.
According to the US Department of Fish and Wildlife, quagga mussels have the potential of collapsing entire food webs. These mussels are filter feeders that “remove food and nutrients from the water column very efficiently, leaving less or nothing for native aquatic species” and they “have no natural predators in North America.”
Dreissenid mussels cause economic troubles when they clog water intake pipes, hurting municipal water supply operators, agricultural irrigation and intake valves for hydroelectric power facilities, which are costly to clean. According to the Center for Invasive Species Research at the University of California, Riverside, the cost of managing a zebra mussel infestation in the Great Lakes alone now exceeds $500 million a year.
“Prevention, early detection and rapid response are the most cost effective solutions to combat the spread of an invasive species like the dreissenid mussel,” said Senator Huff. “My measure gives the DFG continued authority to conduct inspections and order disinfections, closures and quarantines if necessary to prevent the spread of this invasive species. It also requires water supply operators to implement plans to prevent and control infestations.”
SB 215 was sponsored by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and also had the support of the California Municipal Utilities Association. Without Senator Huff’s legislation, they contend that, “…their (dreissenid mussel) establishment in California waters, including the already stressed California Bay-Delta, could result in an environmental disaster.”