Alberta Environment asks boaters to check for zebra mussels
Manitoba recently declared victory in its first battle with zebra mussels
Boaters in Alberta are being urged to check their boats before entering the province's lakes and waterways this summer.
Alberta Environment is worried that zebra and quagga mussels could be hitching rides from one province to another by attaching themselves to boats, trailers or other watercraft.
Spokeswoman Kate Wilson says anyone bringing in a boat from out-of-province should clean, drain and dry it.
The province is also doing boat inspections at commercial vehicle scales on major highways coming into Alberta from Saskatchewan and the U.S. to catch the mussels before they get into the lakes.
The same kind of precautions are being taken in Saskatchewan after the recent confirmation of zebra mussels in Lake Winnipeg.
Zebra and quagga mussels can cause irreversible damage to aquatic ecosystems and clog water intakes.
Manitoba recently declared victory in its first battle with zebra mussels, but cautioned the fight is far from over.
The province sealed off four harbours in mid-May with a silt curtain before injecting liquid potash into the water. The concentration of potash was increased until it suffocated the mussels. Manitoba Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh said the treatment was successful and killed the mussels.
The invasive species, which has been in the Great Lakes for almost two decades and has spread throughout parts of the United States, was discovered for the first time in Manitoba last October.
Wilson says if mussels spread to Alberta, it will be bad for the economy.
"We know that they could live here, they could survive our winters," she says. "The economic impact is really the driver, because any pipe in the water — irrigation, water treatment — any industry dependent on a pipe in the water would have serious economic impacts."