Quagga mussels eradicated from Pennsylvania lake

May 15, 2018

Quagga mussels have successfully been eradicated from open waters in a first-ever project at an historic Pennsylvania quarry.

Bainbridge, Penn. – Quagga mussels have been eradicated from a 29-acre lake in a project led by Earth Science Laboratories (ESL). Tests have shown that the historic Billmeyer Quarry in Lancaster County, Penn., is currently free of adult quagga mussels and their microscopic larvae, called veligers. The announcement marks a historic victory in the ongoing effort to slow the spread of the invasive mollusks.

Billmeyer Quarry is located near Bainbridge, Penn., on the eastern bank of the Lower Susquehanna River. For 33 years the former limestone quarry was home to the Bainbridge Scuba Center. The water’s 115-foot depth and high visibility made it a popular destination for divers. Quagga mussels were first sighted in the quarry nearly a decade ago. They were considered impossible to eradicate until recently.

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) plans to develop the quarry as a renewable source of clean water. The property’s 500 million gallons of spring-fed water could replenish the river during times of drought, but not with quagga mussels present. Quagga mussel veligers float freely until they find hard surfaces to colonize. Transmitting them to the river would endanger its ecology and the many industries that rely on it. When the SRBC called for competitive proposals to kill quagga mussel veligers in the pipeline to the river, ESL submitted a more ambitious plan.

“The quarry is simply too close to the river to reliably kill veligers in the pipeline,” said ESL Business Manager, David Carrington. “The contact time is just a few seconds. We saw a perfect opportunity to dispel the notion that quaggas can’t be exterminated once they infest a lake.”

Led by national zebra and quagga mussel expert, Dr. David Hammond, the ESL team treated the entire quarry with several doses of EarthTec® QZ, an EPA registered molluscicide. Onsite tests showed that adult quagga mussels died within two to four days. Dr. Hammond verified veliger mortality through laboratory analysis of water samples. The team observed no significant effects on fish and other wildlife.

“Our technology allowed us to determine just the right dosage to achieve full quagga mussel mortality with minimal stress on other wildlife,” Hammond said. “The fish population remained stable throughout the entire treatment process. We’ll continue to monitor the quarry to confirm our results and ensure that the quagga population does not recover in the coming years.”

The Billmeyer Quarry project is the first of its kind to successfully eradicate quagga mussels from open waters. Independent teams have used EarthTec QZ to eradicate zebra mussels from lakes in two previous cases: a 3-acre lake in Indiana and a 29-acre bay of Lake Minnewashta in Minnesota. The Billmeyer Quarry is the largest and deepest lake from which quagga mussels or zebra mussels have ever been eradicated.

“The SRBC has acted responsibly and transparently to rid the Billmeyer Quarry of an existential threat to the vitality of the Susquehanna River.” said ESL CEO David Nicholas. “We are very pleased with the outcome of this project. Together we’ve won a historic victory.”

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