When not cleaned, dried or drained, boats can be infested anywhere from the anchor to the bilge, and because the mussels' larvae are microscopic, they can't be seen by the naked eye. Additionally, the larvae are free swimmers and can travel quickly by water.
Adults grow no more than about 1 ½ inches, he said, and develop a distinctive zebra-like striped shell.
In its Brazos Basin newsletter, the Brazos River Authority said boaters in 47 counties, including Palo Pinto and Parker, are required “to drain water from watercraft approaching or leaving public waterways.”
“The move [to require boaters to drain their craft] comes a few months after the destructive bivalves were confirmed for the first time in the Brazos basin, at Belton Lake in Bell County,” the newsletter reads. “Other Texas lakes where zebra mussels have been found include Bridgeport, Lavon, Lewisville, Ray Roberts and Texoma.”
Currently, area lakes haven't been affected, Lang said. “Thankfully, as of this time we have not received reports of, or detected in our sampling, zebra mussels in Palo Pinto, PK or Lake Mineral Wells.”
Scott Blasor, secretary-treasurer of the Palo Pinto County Municipal Water District 1, said the district has done a risk assessment regarding the mussels, noting that if the lake were affected, the mussels could block up pumps and pipelines and would have to be cleared.
The mussels first infested the Great Lakes in the 1980s, transported by ships from Europe, and have spread south to Texas, Lang said. Lake Texoma was the first lake discovered to have the mussels in 2009.
He said Texas Parks and Wildlife encourages everybody to get involved to help keep the mussels from spreading. “It takes everybody to do the right thing and be vigilant.”