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Zebra Mussel Myth #3: Zebra Mussel Control Systems Should Be Engineered

by | Nov 1, 2019

Good engineering is absolutely vital for the smooth operation of any water treatment plant or power generation facility, but time and zebra mussels wait for no one — not even engineers. Developing and installing new technologies takes time — sometimes years. Without immediate control measures in place, zebra mussels have that much more time to wreak havoc.

A single female zebra mussel can expel 40,000 eggs in a reproductive cycle and up to a million in a spawning season. The density of a zebra mussel colony can exceed 100,000 mussels per square meter. Their ability to multiply exponentially can quickly add up to disaster for unprepared utilities, especially in warmer climates, where spawning can occur year-round.

Early detection and rapid response are critical. As invasive mussels colonize new territories, it is not uncommon for utility staff to be mulling over control options when mussels are suddenly found deep within the pumping and treatment infrastructure. Engineered solutions like antifouling screens can take months to design and install and still leave downstream processes vulnerable. Prevention and control plans should account for this reality by including more immediate zebra mussel mitigation strategies.

Officials in Bell County, TX, acted quickly to control zebra mussels using a simple chemical feed system. The Bell County Water Control and Improvement District implemented a program that maximized uptime and eliminated zebra mussels from the entire length of their intake pipeline from Lake Belton. The program uses low doses of ionic copper for full durational control of zebra mussels. This brings up the final zebra mussel myth . . . . Continue to read Zebra Mussel Myth #4

This article is the fourth of a five-part series excerpted from “Four Zebra Mussel Myths and Where They Went Wrong.” It is reprinted here with permission. The full article with references is available at Water Online. Copyright 2019.


About The Author

zebra mussel expert Dr. David HammondDavid Hammond is an environmental chemist who has consulted with private industry on topics including pest management, taste and odor problems, biological wastewater treatment, sustainability, and biomimicry. He holds a master’s degree from the Energy and Resources Group and a Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry, both from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Hammond has four patents and several peer-reviewed publications and currently serves as senior scientist with Earth Science Laboratories, Inc.

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