Steve Stoler reports
North Texas' main source for water could have a serious problem: zebra mussels. The tiny pests are only the size of a fingernail, but they pose a big threat.
Zebra mussels have already been spotted in the headwaters of Lake Lavon.
Earlier this week, the North Texas Municipal Water District stopped pumping water from Lake Texoma to Lake Lavon due to the zebra mussel problem.
The mussels can devastate lakes. In April, they were discovered at Lake Texoma.
"They're small shells," explained Dennis Gibbs, the owner of Gibbs Marine Surveys. "They're only about the size of your thumbnail, and they multiply rapidly.
Gibbs inspected one of the first boats that carried the mussels into Texas at Lake Texoma. He found a colony of the pests throughout the boat.
Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists found the musselsin Sister Grove Creek, which flows into Lake Lavon. The lake is the water supply for more than 1.5 million people in 61 North Texas cities.
"The adult zebra mussels will attach to any hard surface that is found in the water, such as intake structures or our pumps or our motors," said Denise Hickey, a spokeswoman for the North Texas Municipal Water District.
The mussels were found near the water district'spipeline that carries water from Lake Texoma to Sister Grove Creek and then on to Lake Lavon. The creatures can restrict the flow in pipes and foul up swimming beaches.
Zebra mussels can also have a negative impact on the ecosystem, lowering the numbers of fish. Theyoftenattach themselves to boats. Business owners saythat could be bad for business.
"Itcould drastically effect fishing out there at the lake and harm boats," said Dan James, the owner of the boat rental company called Lavon Water Sports. "That would be a bad deal for the boaters as well as my business because we depend on renting those boats out."
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers will start looking for the mussels in the lake next week.