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Corps Issues Documents Allowing Cost-Share In Effort To Prevent Invasive Mussels In Basin
Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017 (PST)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to participate in cost sharing with Northwest states -- depending on the availability of federal funding-- to expand boat inspection stations to detect invasive, destructive species such as zebra or quagga mussels.

 

The Corps Thursday issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact and a Final Integrated Letter Report and Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Federal Participation in Watercraft Inspection Stations in the Columbia River Basin.”  Public comments were previously invited through Jan. 12, 2017.

 

Documents are available at http://www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental-Compliance/.

 

State-managed inspection stations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington reduce the risk of aquatic invasive species, such as zebra or quagga mussels carried on watercraft, entering the basin from outside the basin.

 

The Columbia River Basin is one of the last major watersheds in the United States not infested with invasive zebra or quagga mussels, which can wreck expensive havoc on water infrastructure facilities.

 

The Corps will partner with the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington on establishing watercraft inspection stations at locations that protect the Columbia River Basin and provide the highest likelihood of preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species into Corps-managed reservoirs in the Columbia River Basin.

 

The Corps has authority to fund 50 percent of the cost to establish, operate, and maintain new or existing watercraft inspection stations.

 

In the Final Integrated LR/EA, the selected alternative augments existing watercraft inspection programs by incorporating a comprehensive range of measures or “suite of tools” to be used and modified annually, “depending on each state’s need and ability to fund its portion of the program, the results of regional coordination efforts, and availability of federal funding,” says the Corps.

 

The suite of tools includes Corps participation “in regional strategy meetings to select the inspection locations, expanding the number of locations or hours of operation, adding canine detection capabilities, improving signage, constructing site improvements, and augmenting existing monitoring efforts and contingency and response planning efforts.”

 

The Corps, in its documents, notes that conservative estimates of average federal and non-federal annual operations and maintenance cost savings associated with deferring an aquatic invasive species infestation for one year is about $156 million.

 

Total estimated costs of the inspection station program to protect the Columbia River Basin is about $7.4 million.

 

“Therefore, the benefit-to-cost ratio is favorable, about 8.4 to one. These economic benefits do not include the ecosystem benefits of delaying an infestation,” says the Corps.

 

The primary target for watercraft inspections is invasive mussels, which are a considerable threat to infrastructure. A 2015 report said if an invasion of the mussels were to occur throughout the region, most of the damage would be to the region’s dams, hatcheries and water supply facilities, as well as a big chunk for boater costs and maintenance.

 

Also see:

 

-- CBB, Feb, 24, 2017, “Corps Discussing Cost-Sharing For Watercraft Inspection Stations To Fight Invasive Mussels” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438378.aspx

 

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