Austin approves EarthTec QZ for zebra mussel control in water treatment plants

Feb 3, 2020

The Austin City Council has approved $4 million dollars over the next five years for zebra mussel control in water intakes on Lake Austin and Lake Travis.

AUSTIN, Texas – The Austin City Council has approved a multi-million-dollar plan to control zebra mussels in the city’s three water treatment plants. The approval comes nearly a year after Austin residents endured foul-smelling water for over a week last February. The noxious smell was caused by dead and decaying zebra mussels in a temporarily decommissioned raw water pipeline.

Following the odor event last February, Austin Water officials explored several options to control zebra mussels. The final plan approved by the Austin City Council calls for low doses of an EPA-approved molluscicide called EarthTec® QZ. The copper-based solution will be applied to raw water at the intake structures of the city’s three water treatment plants.

“Zebra mussels are particularly sensitive to this compound,” said Dr. David Hammond, Senior Scientist at Earth Science Laboratories. “The concentration of copper Austin is using to control zebra mussels in their intake structure is less than one-50th of the EPA limit for drinking water. EarthTec QZ is approved for use in drinking water at concentrations far above what we’re actually dosing, and it’s being used in hundreds of water treatment plants around the country without adverse effects.”

Zebra mussels were first discovered in Texas in 2009. Since then the tiny invaders have infested 18 lakes throughout the state, including Lake Austin and Lake Travis. Zebra mussels spread by hitching rides on boats and other recreational watercrafts. Adult zebra mussels can survive for a week or more out of water. Microscopic zebra mussel larvae, called veligers, can float freely downstream and survive in small pools of water.

Once established, zebra mussels are prolific breeders. A single female can release up to a million eggs in a season. Zebra mussels that survive into adulthood attach themselves to hard surfaces and form thick colonies, smothering native mollusks and fouling infrastructure. Left unchecked, these colonies can quickly clog water intake structures and pipelines.

Earth Science Laboratories Inc. manufactures advanced water treatment products for use in municipal, agricultural and recreational waters. EarthTec QZ is an EPA registered molluscicide for controlling zebra mussels and quagga mussels in pipelines and open waters. It is NSF Certified to Standard 60 as an additive to drinking water. More information is available at