AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, the Austin City Council approved a construction contract to build new systems that may prevent the invasion of Zebra Mussels at the city’s three water treatment plants.
The new Copper Ion Generator systems use electricity and copper electrodes to release copper ions into raw water pipelines. According to the city, the newly constructed systems would replace the Copper Sulfate feed systems currently in place.
Zebra Mussels were first spotted in Lake Travis in 2017 and have since infested Lake Travis and Lake Austin —the main sources of Austin’s drinking water.
“The invasive species attaches to surfaces such as grates, screens, pipes and valves, interferes with water treatment operations and increases the amount of energy required to pump water through the process. Their presence also can affect taste and odor of drinking water,” the city said.
The copper ions will deter Zebra Mussels from entering and affecting the water treatment plant infrastructure, according to the city. The treatment process would then remove the copper ions before the drinking water is sent out.
The city said construction on the new systems was scheduled to begin within the next few months, and it is estimated to be completed by the winter of 2023.