GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Zebra mussels have entrenched themselves in Central Texas, and the invasive species continue to spread across the state.
In 2017, zebra mussels were found in Lake Georgetown, most likely brought to the lake by a boat that had been in nearby infested waters.
“They came in from Russia and Ukraine they made their way into the Great Lakes in the 80s and made their way down,” said Shean Dalton, general manager of Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District.
Utility district officials said they are fighting back though with a new solution: copper.
“The one thing we found is that zebra mussels don’t like copper,” said Joey Miller with the MUD.
If left untreated, the mussels can clog intake pipes and reduce the amount of water the city is able to collect from the lake.
So they’ve switched to copper screen covers instead of stainless steel, and they are working on a facility at the lake which will use a copper solution to run through the pipes.
“It is a very low component that we are adding to the water solution. It keeps them from coming in, and those that do come in, it keeps them from propagating,” Dalton said.
With a small amount of copper going into the lines, officials said there is no harmful impact to people.
“I don’t think it is a panic mode because there are ways to take care of them, but it is a concern because we are having to spend a lot of money to take care of this,” Miller said.
There are 28 lakes across the state that are considered infested by zebra mussels.
The Lower Colorado River Authority and the Texas Parks and Wildlife said they both don’t have a count of exactly how many mussels are in the Highland Lakes, but what they do know mid-to-late spring is typically the beginning of breading season for zebra mussels.
The population in the lake will likely grow this summer.