PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Many Central Texas bodies of water have been plagued by zebra mussels over the last couple years, and one Travis County city is working to combat the issues the invasive species caused in its water treatment plant.

Lake Pflugerville was infested and damaged by the non-native, invasive species in 2019, which resulted in damage to the city’s water treatment plant. Because of the damage, and exponential population growth over the last decade, the treatment plant will be significantly upgraded, nearly doubling its capacity.

The expansion will increase the potable water treatment capacity from 17.7 million gallons per day to 30 million gallons per day. The expansion project is funded in part with a $24 million low-interest loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund administered by the Texas Water Development Board.

What are Zebra mussels?

These invasive, rapidly-producing, finger-sized mollusks arrived in North America from Eurasia in the 1980s, experts say. After invading the Great Lakes region, they began appearing all across the U.S. The species was discovered in Texas in Lake Texoma in 2009, and has been spreading ever since. Back in 2019, Zebra mussels were the culprit behind a foul odor in Austin city water after they were discovered in a pipeline at the Ulrich Water Treatment Plant.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) said in August that zebra mussels had spread to 34 Texas lakes, with 30 of them considered “fully infested.” 

TPWD said not only can invasive species hurt aquatic ecosystems, but they can also impact water infrastructure and lake activities like swimming.