Waurika Lake Conservancy District keeps zebra mussels from spreading

WAURIKA, OK (KSWO) - Some Zebra Mussels made Waurika Lake their home last year, and the Waurika Lake Master Conservancy District has kept the invasive species from spreading to other cities that get water from Waurika including Lawton, Duncan and Walters.

To prevent the spread, David Taylor, the Waurika Lake Master Conservancy District Director, said they're treating the water with a chemical product called EarthTec at the pump house. It's basically a copper sulfate solution that kills the zebra mussels. Not only does it get rid of them it also keeps them from infesting other bodies of water.

They showed up in Waurika Lake a little over a year ago. Each female mussel generates between 100,000 to 1,000,000 eggs a year. Taylor said they'll stick to anything, including pipes, which can cause major problems.

"Once they start to grow inside of a pipeline, they'll keep growing, and make that pipeline smaller and smaller and smaller," Taylor explained. "At that point, it's very difficult to clean out, and you have increased operating cost and increased maintenance cost."

Which is why keeping the population from growing has been a major priority for Taylor and the district. After researching solutions to protect water supplies, for their six-member cities, they decided to try EarthTec.

"We then put it in the water at very, very low quantities, and it kills the mussels," Taylor said. "So, they had migrated upstream from our facility a mile to two miles, and we believe we've stopped that."

As water comes to the pump house at Waurika Lake, it is treated using the solution. Taylor said they use approximately a gallon of solution for every million gallons of water. He said they haven't seen damage from the solution they're using halfway up the pipeline. They started treating the water less than a year ago.

"We believe that we have stopped it and we do also believe that we found this infestation early," he said. "We found it early enough to stop it before it got to all the cities and elsewhere."

Taylor said only one lake in America has been able to totally get rid of Zebra Mussels after they've infested the water. He doesn't anticipate not having to treat water from Waurika any time soon.

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