North Texas

Flooding Could Spread Invasive Zebra Mussels

Experts fear the recent floods and subsequent release of water from several North Texas lakes could mean the spread of zebra mussels to new spots they had not yet reached.

Denton County Game Warden Stormy McCuiston said it's likely an inevitability in his mind.

"The zebra mussels are going to thrive and they're going to thrive in places we don't have them," said McCuiston.

To prevent flood waters from causing major property damage, leaders with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continue to release waters from some lakes and see it spill over others as they try to return levels to normal.

McCuiston said lakes like Ray Roberts and Lewisville that already have zebra mussels in them are among those likely releasing the invasive species downstream.

James Kennedy, biology professor at the University of North Texas, said the mussels that are the biggest risk for spreading problems, the youngest ones, are fairly delicate and most will likely die in the torrential waters headed down the Trinity and other rivers, but he said some will almost certainly get through.

"It definitely has the potential of dispersing the zebra mussel downstream," said Kennedy. "Very likely they'll make their way further south, and Lake Livingston, the furthest downstream reservoir, they're not known from there, but this may push them a little bit closer."

Experts urge the public to continue cleaning, draining and drying boats when they remove them from a lake to help prevent the spread to other waterways even further.

At this point, experts said they will have to wait for water levels to go down before they can say for sure what the current zebra mussel population and spread will look like.

"This is uncharted territory, especially for this area," said Kennedy.

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