Boaters in Utah must prepare for quagga mussels

SALT LAKE CITY – Before you launch your boat this summer in Utah, a new law requires you to take an online quagga mussel prevention training course.

Lt. Bruce Johnson heads the aquatic invasive species division at DWR. He said they are working hard to prevent the spread of quagga mussels.

“We ask all boaters, when leaving a body of water, to make sure the boat is clean. Remove any drain plugs required by law and let the boat dry. So you are not carrying water.”

Related: DWR discovers more efficient method to disinfect boats from quagga mussels

He said the reason is because quagga mussels are microscopic in their younger stages and simply float in the water.

“They are incredibly invasive and can take over an entire body of water and ecosystem. They are filter feeders, so they filter out all the plankton and macrophytes and disrupt the food chain for the rest of the aquatic life in that body of water. From the small invertebrates to what the fish eat, they could potentially remove a lot of those food resources from the body of water.

Johnson said that as they grow, they could also damage engines and machinery.

“They build up so much and keep building on top of each other that they clog up the entire water flow. And so engines can no longer circulate water that cools the engine, and they can ruin engines. The same thing happens with all water supply lines.[s] in this boat. As well as [a] Dam infrastructure [and] Water supply lines also through one of our water treatment plants.”

He said the quagga mussels appeared in Lake Powell about 11 years ago.

Who else needs to attend the quagga mussel prevention training?

Johnson said the training also applies to owners of non-motorized boats and inflatable boats.

“We asked them to still complete the educational course. We offer it online, so it's easy and accessible. They read some information. They do a short quiz. It takes about 15 minutes in total and then they can print it out or save it to their phone to prove they've completed the course.”

(Utah Department of Wildlife Resources)

He said there is no fee for non-motorized boats, while owners of motorized watercraft must pay $25.

“The fee payment is not new. What is new is the way it is calculated. For the last seven or eight years, that fee has been charged by the Department of Motor Vehicles at boat registration for powerboats. Now we have to make that payment directly to the Division of Wildlife Resources… So it is not a new fee. It is not a new requirement. It has always been in place, we have just adjusted the way it is administered.”

Johnson said there is another requirement for boat owners.

“All watercraft must stop at our inspection stations when they are open and in operation. This is just to make sure that even the smaller inflatable boats are compliant. Even though they have completed this training course and may have legal and other formalities to complete, they still have to stop at these inspection stations.”

Related: Expert wants boaters to know the rules for drinking on the water

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