Zebra mussels found in Lake Austin

The invasive zebra mussels infecting Texas lakes and rivers have now been found in Lake Austin. This highly destructive species was first confirmed in the Texas Colorado River basin in early July 2017 in Lake Travis. These mussels will cause tens of millions of dollars in damage in the coming years. They reproduce so quickly that they clog up water pipes and damage boats, and they will cause ecological damage in the Colorado River as well.

Other mussel species living in the river will likely suffer as the zebra mussel population expands. Mussels have been called the ‘livers of the river’ because they help keep the water clean. But since non-native zebra mussels have no predators here, the zebra mussels will reproduce like crazy, crowding out the native populations of helpful mussels. The zebra mussels are filter feeders, and by removing too much nutrient-rich plankton, for instance, they can also threaten other parts of the food chain, including insects and fish.

Though zebra mussels breed and spread quickly – one zebra mussel can produce one million larvae – the spread can still be prevented by keeping all boats cleaned, drained, and dried between trips, according to the website TexasInvasives.org.