Zebra mussels continue to spread

Late Friday the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism announced that zebra mussels have been found at the Jeffery Energy Center. It’s located about half-way between Topeka and Manhattan and near the Kansas River.

The department’s press release said the discovery was expected because zebra mussels are present in Wilson and Milford Lakes. Both lakes release water into tributaries of the Kansas River. Jeffery Energy center pulls water from the Kansas River.

Kansas now has 11 confirmed bodies of water with zebra mussels. El Dorado Lake was Kansas’ first in the summer of 2003. Zebra mussels are now present in Marion and Cheney Lakes, too.

The invasive species came to the U.S. in the ballast of cargo ships in the mid-1980s and have spread south and east from the Great Lakes.

Though zebra mussel larvae spreads downstream most stockings in Kansas waters were probably done by anglers and pleasure boaters transporting water from one lake to another.

Zebra mussels clog in-take pipes at numerous water treatment and energy facilities resulting in millions of dollars of rate hikes to pay for cleaning.

They also compete with native fish and mollusks for plankton and habitat.

Wildlife and Parks is continually reminding the public to never move fish or water from one body of water to another, to empty bait buckets and livewells on dry land and not into other waters, to check boats, trailers, skis for vegetation or zebra mussels and to power-wash all equipment with hot water or dry for at least five days.