WA State, with help from Federal officials and the legislature, will be investing another $3.6 million in efforts to track and if needed, eradicate one of the most invasive species of life found in the US.

  Quagga and zebra mussels can affect water systems

First located in the US in the Great Lakes region in the 1980's these mussels are destructive to almost everything they touch.  The mussels breed rapidly and create layers that can be up to a foot thick, on top of each other.

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They've been known to clog pipes in irrigation, drinking water and other pipe systems, they can damage and break pumps, and can even affect dams and fish ladders.

So far, they have not been found in WA state yet, but they were detected last September in a portion of the Snake River in Idaho.  According to WA Fish and Wildlife:

"These mussel populations can reach astonishing densities of up to tens of thousands of individuals per square meter, clogging pipes and mechanical systems of hydropower and drinking water utilities, aqueducts, locks, fish ladders, and hatcheries.

Invasive mussels also filter enormous amounts of algae, disrupting the food chain, and impacting water quality."

   Officials will employ a wide variety of testing and monitoring methods to watch for any development or detection of the mussels, especially in the Snake and Columbia Rivers. These images from the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the US National Park Service show how thick and quick they can multiply.

 Officials say if they do wind up in WA waterways if left unchecked, it could cost $100 million a year to clean water systems and try to eradicate them.

water pipe clogged with quagga and zebra mussels (WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife)
water pipe clogged with quagga and zebra mussels (WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife)

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