curved box top

blue top

blue line

Nt_cloudy


Nt_cloudy

Wind:  0 mph S

Humidity:  49%


blue bottom


blue top

blue line


Lake Travis Water Level

   updated 2:00 AM


blue bottom


blue top

Lake Travis Webcam

blue bottom


blue top

blue bottom


Contact Go Lake Travis

How Zebra Mussels Will Change Austin Lakes (And Maybe Barton Springs) Forever

Posted: Thu, 17 Aug 2017 07:45 AM - 1,473 Readers

By: Mose Buchele



Zebra mussels, an invasive species that can destroy ecosystems, are headed to Austin waterways.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT


The invasive zebra mussel has been moving south for years, leaving destruction its wake. Now, it’s in Lake Travis, and it will soon make its way downstream, changing the look, feel and maybe even the taste of Austin’s lakes forever.

At first glance, the mussels don’t look very threatening. They’re about the size of a nickel, with brown and yellow stripes. But in large enough numbers they wreak havoc.

You can sometimes find “thousands per square meter” says Robert McMahon, a mussel researcher at UT Arlington.

“They’re literally filtering the water over in a lake,” he says. “Depending on how dense it is, they might turn over all the water in a lake every week.”

That robs other small creatures of food. The creatures that eat those creatures then go hungry, and so on.

“It’s going to be a top-to-bottom change in the whole ecosystem,” says Liz Johnston, an environmental program coordinator with the city.

Going Clear

One of the more visible effects will be in water clarity.


Liz Johnston, an environmental program coordinator with the city, says Barton Springs could be at risk because of zebra mussels.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT



“That’s what they’ve seen in northern lakes,” Johnston says. “It may look beautiful to people because it’ll be crystal clear and you'll think, ‘This is beautiful clean water,’ when really it’s not the way it’s supposed to be."

That clarity allows sunlight to reach deeper into the lake. That could encourage more plant growth, including invasive hydrilla and algae blooms that sometimes make our drinking water taste funny.

“If there’s a really bad bloom and the water’s clearer, it may actually make the lake blueish green at times,” Johnston says.

Shells That Cut And Clog

The arrival of zebra mussels might mean no more walking barefoot in or near waterways.

“They live quickly and die quickly,” Johnston says. “All of the shells will get deposited on the banks. They’re very sharp to walk on. … It will make any beaches along our reservoirs not pleasant to walk on barefoot.”

The mussels also clog water-intake pipes. In other places, utilities have spent millions of dollars dealing with them.

Lake Becomes Contagious

“If you have a boat in the water, they like to attach to hard surfaces,” Johnston says.

“On Lady Bird Lake, we don't have a lot of motor boats, but we do have people coming in and out on their standup paddle boards and kayaks that could potentially be transferred into other systems.”

That means, from now on, anyone who brings a boat to Austin’s lakes should wash it and let it dry, or risk spreading the mussels.

Barton Springs At Risk

It seems inevitable that Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake, which are downstream from Lake Travis, will host the zebra mussels soon. Decker Lake is fed by the same water, so it’s a safe bet the mussels will get there, too.

And, Johnston says, Barton Springs might even be at risk.

“Catfish could potentially disperse them upstream,” she says. “I’m also concerned about people who swim downstream of Lady Bird Lake at 'Barking Springs.' The larva could be attached to them. If they decide they want to go dip in the Barton Springs pool immediately, they could also transfer it there.”

The relatively nutrient-poor waters of Barton Springs may help protect it from the invaders, though, she says.

Nothing Can Be Done

Here’s the kicker: There’s no way to safely get rid of zebra mussels.

Looking for some good news?

Not every lake makes an ideal home for them, so it’s possible they won’t proliferate in Austin to the point where they cause maximum harm.

The thing is, we won’t know until they’re here – and that should be any day now.


*  Story Contributed by: Mose Buchele



[edit]



Lake Travis News


How Zebra Mussels Will Change Austin Lakes (And Maybe Barton Springs) Forever

Aug 17, 2017

1,473 Readers

Man seriously injured after 20 to 30 foot fall from cliff at Lake Travis

Aug 13, 2017

1,123 Readers

Lakeway City Park adds life jacket loaner station

Aug 11, 2017

873 Readers

Boater dies after hitting Lake Travis shoreline

Aug 1, 2017

1,274 Readers

No serious injuries after plane crashes into water at Lake Travis

Jul 22, 2017

1,254 Readers

Man injured in 30-foot fall over rocks at Hippie Hollow

Jul 15, 2017

963 Readers

Tow boat owner says plane wheels were down when it flipped into lake

Jul 13, 2017

1,112 Readers

Lady Bird Lake vegetation at risk after ‘mass migration’ of carp

Jul 11, 2017

912 Readers

Lake Travis ‘infested’ with invasive, damaging zebra mussels

Jun 27, 2017

1,005 Readers

Scuba divers scoop for lake trash after Memorial Day festivities

May 30, 2017

1,794 Readers

Here’s why you can’t swim in Lady Bird Lake. Wait — you can’t swim in Lady Bird Lake?

Aug 8, 2017

1,143 Readers

5 Ways to Try Paddleboarding in Austin

Aug 4, 2017

998 Readers

Why Is Hippie Hollow Clothing-Optional?

Jul 31, 2017

1,226 Readers

JAWS on the Water - Friday, June 30th

Jun 27, 2017

1,760 Readers

Memorial Day Weekend watercraft ban on Lake Austin

May 25, 2017

1,883 Readers

Travis County officials prep for Memorial Day weekend on Lake Travis

May 23, 2017

1,689 Readers

West Austin 4-H Offers Opportunities Beyond Just Raising Animals

Aug 9, 2016

7,459 Readers

Large Crowds Expected at Lake Travis For Holiday Weekend

Jul 1, 2016

9,303 Readers

Lady Bird Lake businesses back open for Father’s Day

Jun 19, 2016

6,890 Readers

Boats allowed back on Lady Bird Lake starting noon Thursday

Jun 16, 2016

7,641 Readers

Lake Buchanan rises nearly 8 inches due to rain

Aug 8, 2017

1,425 Readers

One floodgate open at Starcke Dam

Aug 7, 2017

1,258 Readers

Driving on RM 620, I see islands sticking out of the lake. Is the drought returning?

Jul 14, 2017

1,808 Readers

West Travis Co. residents clean up after heavy storms

Apr 3, 2017

2,335 Readers

WATCH | Possible tornado/water spout spotted on Lake Travis

Apr 3, 2017

2,937 Readers

Aerosols Strengthen Storm Clouds, According to New Study

Jun 14, 2016

7,353 Readers

National Weather Service : Why You Shouldn’t Drive During a Flood

Jun 10, 2016

7,463 Readers

LCRA will be in flood management mode for coming weeks

Jun 4, 2016

7,820 Readers

How high could Lake Travis rise near Austin?

Jun 3, 2016

7,792 Readers

LCRA stands ready as more rain is expected in Central Texas

Jun 2, 2016

8,299 Readers

City looking for help to curb storm drain pollution

Aug 5, 2017

1,223 Readers

Apache Shores features waterfront views, trails, park

Jul 14, 2017

1,019 Readers

10-year Mansfield Dam rehabilitation project will keep Austin safe

Apr 27, 2017

933 Readers

Overflowing Lake Travis isn't all bad news for businesses

Jun 8, 2016

7,210 Readers

Lake Travis High School Graduation cut short

Jun 8, 2016

7,799 Readers

A full Lake Travis boosts local businesses

May 26, 2016

7,219 Readers

Texas lake businesses booming again after long drought

May 12, 2016

9,096 Readers

Lakeway’s Schmidt Family Barbecue restaurant to shutter its doors by fall

May 11, 2016

7,352 Readers

Lake Travis Fire Rescue begins fleet overhaul

May 6, 2016

8,108 Readers

Gnarly Gar fighting to stay in new building on Lake Travis marina

Apr 19, 2016

4,811 Readers

Modern guesthouse tower adds space, views to lakeside cabin

Sep 28, 2017

735 Readers

A Striking Sanctuary in Texas Inspired by a Sand Dollar

Aug 8, 2017

1,059 Readers

Contemporary Architectural Masterpiece on Lake Austin

Jul 30, 2017

1,067 Readers

Lake Austin mansion with a Romeo and Juliet balcony, including dramatic backstory

Jul 28, 2017

845 Readers

Midcentury-modern home overlooks Lake Austin, Pennybacker Bridge

May 27, 2016

7,109 Readers

Lake Travis Waterfront Retreat Offered by Heritage Luxury Real Estate Auctions

May 18, 2016

7,395 Readers

In Lago Vista, big dreams for $68 million ranch property

May 14, 2016

7,445 Readers

This Texas Barn Mansion on Lake Travis is Out of This World

May 6, 2016

8,686 Readers

Rockmoor Estate $35 million Austin mansion up for sale

Apr 19, 2016

4,550 Readers

Windy Point is for sale!

Jan 13, 2016

5,768 Readers



News Archives 2017 - Select a Month

« December 2016  

January 2018 »  




bottom