The Bureau of Reclamation received nearly 100
proposals from entities participating in an agency challenge to develop new
ways to stop the proliferation of invasive mussel species.
The Bureau announced in December that it would
be seeking “innovative solutions for the 100 percent eradication of invasive
quagga and zebra mussels, lakes and rivers in a cost-effective and
environmentally sound manner.”
The challenge is actually a competition, with
applicants aiming for a $100,000 purse that will be split among a maximum five
Peter Soeth, a public affairs specialist with
the Bureau in Denver, reports that 99 solution proposals were submitted by the
Feb. 28 deadline.
“We will now review and rate those proposals
to see if any will qualify for the funding,” Soeth said. “Once that is
complete, we will announce the winners.”
Invasive mussels have caused havoc in waters
where they have become established, rapidly reproducing to a point where they
infest hydro and irrigation structures, along with shoreline structures and
“Invasive mussel infestations pose significant
logistical and economic challenges for local communities, recreationists and
water managers by potentially disrupting water deliveries, increasing facility
maintenance costs and impacting the local ecology,” the Bureau states in a
“Currently, no known broad-scale application
for open water exists to safely eradicate mussels in an environmentally sound
manner,” said David Raff, science adviser for the Bureau.
Solutions may be novel treatments or
approaches that build upon existing treatments. They must be specific to
invasive mussels, “without harm to non-target organisms such as native mussels
or threatened and endangered species. They must be already in compliance with
existing federal discharge permits and environmental protection regulations or
must be implementable with reasonable modifications to existing regulations.
Successful treatments must be cost-effective and scalable to large water
Over the last decade, efforts to detect and
prevent invasive mussel species have quickly grown to become an environmental
priority in Columbia Basin states that have mussel-free waters. Boat
inspections have become fairly common on highways and at marinas and boat
launches, and public information campaigns have been undertaken.
The inspections have detected dozens of
mussel-infested watercraft in transit from other states where mussels are
The competition for the $100,000 prize is the
first of a three-part challenge. The solution proposals were submitted as
“white papers.” The second stage will involve “proof-of-concept” in a
laboratory-scale demonstration. Stage three will involve field-scale
The competition is also part of a series of
initiatives that were developed through a collaboration of western governors,
as well as federal, state and tribal agencies. The initiatives were highlighted
by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last June.
Reclamation is collaborating with the U.S.
Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Molloy and Associates.
More information on the mussel challenge can
be found at: https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/mussels.html
-- CBB, Jan. 26, 2018, “Corps/States Effort To
Prohibit Invasive Mussels Saw 49 Percent Increase In Boat Interceptions” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440139.aspx
-- CBB, March 24, 2017, “Study: Basin Efforts
To Detect Non-Native Mussels Must Increase, Improve To Prevent Costly Invasion”