Preparing for Zebra Mussels in the Pacific Northwest

Mar 29, 2013

Invasive zebra mussels could soon be heading toward the Pacific Northwest. So, researchers are working to protect and prepare the region’s waterways.

Zebra mussels
Credit U.S. Geological Survey website

In the Great Lakes region, the mussels have caused $1 billion worth of damage. If zebra mussels make it to the Pacific Northwest, they could clog hydroelectric dams and irrigation systems and damage salmon habitat.

So, researchers have received a $630,000 grant from Bonneville Power to figure out when and how zebra mussels will reach the Columbia River Basin.

Steve Bollens is with Washington State University. He says the grant will help increase monitoring efforts.

“We want to be able to identify as quickly as we can when and where they arrive, so that we can prevent their spread," Bollens says.

Washington, Oregon and Idaho officials have stopped boats carrying the fingernail-sized mollusks into the region.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio