Zebra mussel rapid response plan to protect Columbia River in Pacific Northwest

Army Corps of Engineers preparedness strategy for possible zebra-mussel and quagga-mussel infestations includes EarthTec® QZ from Earth Science Laboratories to protect Columbia River System.

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a rapid response against zebra mussels should an infestation occur. The Corps’ proposed action plan details how the tiny aquatic invasive species will be stopped. Ionic copper will be a key weapon in the fight.

The Columbia River is the only remaining watershed in the continental U.S. that is still free of zebra mussels. The Corps wants to keep it that way. Dams in the Columbia River system provide half the region’s electric power and account for 40% of the nation’s hydroelectric production. A zebra mussel infestation here could cost the region’s economy $500 million dollars a year. The Corps is proactively preparing for rapid response in the event it occurs.

Zebra mussels are invasive mollusks originally native to the Caspian Sea. They spread by floating down rivers and hitching rides on boats. Adults can survive out of water for up to seven days. Juveniles, called veligers, are microscopic and can live unseen in small pools of water.

“Zebra mussels breed in massive numbers,” said Dr. David Hammond, Senior Scientist at Earth Science Laboratories (ESL). “They can quickly clog submerged structures such as water intakes and pipelines. Fortunately, with good monitoring and rapid response, it is possible to stop a zebra-mussel infestation before it gets out of hand.”

The Corps operates ten major projects in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Eight of them are hydroelectric dams. The Corps’ zebra mussel rapid response plan proposes to protect these facilities by treating infested areas with an ionic copper solution called EarthTec QZ as soon as zebra mussels are detected.

“Ionic copper is efficient and cost-effective,” Hammond said. “It works at unprecedentedly low doses and does not remain in the environment. Advances in chemistry and treatment methods also allow precise application. Fish and other non-target species remain unharmed.”

The Army Corps of Engineers’ Dreissenid Mussel Rapid Response Action Plan is available at https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll7/id/11671.

Earth Science Laboratories Inc. manufactures advanced water treatment products for use in municipal, agricultural and recreational waters. EarthTec QZ is an EPA registered molluscicide for controlling quagga mussels and zebra mussels in pipelines and open waters. It is NSF Certified to Standard 60 as an additive to drinking water. More information is available at earthtecqz.com.