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Great Lakes Article:

New restrictions likely as zebra mussels spread
By Kirsti Marohn
St. Cloud Times
Posted October 25, 2005

Boaters and anglers on the Mississippi River and Lake Mille Lacs could face stricter regulations now that zebra mussels have been found there.
Researchers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are combing the Mississippi after the invasive species was found last week near Brainerd.

Crews searched downstream Monday and didn't find more, said Jay Rendall, coordinator of the DNR's invasive species program. They were searching upstream Tuesday, he said.

"It's an ongoing process," Rendall said.

Meanwhile, the DNR likely will declare Mille Lacs infested, as well, he said. Staffers have been monitoring the popular fishing lake since last summer, when four zebra mussels were found in three places. They met Tuesday with residents in Garrison, Rendall said.

"It looks like we will probably designate it sometime soon," he said.

If the DNR designates the Mississippi and Lake Mille Lacs as infested, it would adopt emergency rules that would trigger new regulations, Rendall said.

They include requiring boaters to drain water from their boats and equipment and restricting bait harvests from the infested waters.

It's possible the regulations could stretch all the way down the river to the Twin Cities, Rendall said.

The public can expect to see a new effort to raise awareness.

The campaign could including watercraft inspectors at boat landings, conservation officers writing tickets for violations and signs urging boaters to inspect their gear, Rendall said.

People removing docks, boats or other equipment from lakes and rivers should check them for the pests, Rendall said.

"The best reporting we have is from the public," he said.

Before now, zebra mussels had been found in the Great Lakes, the Mississippi south of the Twin Cities and a handful of other Minnesota waters. Last week, a boy found a zebra mussel in Rice Lake, a backwater of the Mississippi near Brainerd. Experts say mussels in a larvae stage could float down the Mississippi.

One of those closely watching for zebra mussels is Ken Robinson, St. Cloud's utilities director. St. Cloud draws its drinking water supply from the Mississippi.

When the city's water treatment plant was built in 1990, a second $1 million intake station was added specifically because of the threat of zebra mussels, Robinson said. That would allow the city to shut down one plant for cleaning while continuing to operate the other.

Robinson said he also may recommend that city officials start saving money for high-powered cleaning equipment for both the water intake stations and the 10th Street dam turbines.

"In essence, we're planning already," he said.

What are they?

Zebra mussels are small, striped, clamlike creatures that reproduce quickly and kill off native mussels.

They can clog intake pipes, causing problems for factories and cities such as St. Cloud that draw their water supply from rivers or lakes.

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