Deer Creek declared free of quagga mussels after 3-year surveillance

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SALT LAKE CITY — State officials on Thursday gave the "all clear" for Deer Creek Reservoir, which had been under anxious surveillance for three years for a potential infestation of quagga mussels.

In October of 2014, five juvenile mussels were found in a water sample and widespread monitoring has continued ever since.

Nathan Owens, aquatic invasive species coordinator with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said no mussels have been detected in the frequent sampling, leading the reservoir to no longer be considered a quagga-suspected water body.

The "all clear" means boaters will no longer have to drain their watercraft and be subject to inspection.

"Our prevention and containment methods worked,” Owens said.

Lake Powell remains the only water body in Utah infested with the quagga mussel, which can clog water infrastructure, ruin boats and fisheries.

Owens says preventing quagga mussels from establishing in Deer Creek was a team effort. “This is a shining example of what can happen when boaters and government work together on a common goal,” he said.

The $500,000 effort included funding from the Utah Legislature and boaters, anglers and personnel from the DWR, Utah State Parks, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Provo River Watershed Council and the Central Utah Water Conservancy District working together to keep additional mussels out of the reservoir.


During the past three years, staff at the park inspected more than 30,000 boats. They professionally decontaminated about 2,000 of them.

State officials urge boaters to continue to exercise caution and care to keep boats quagga-free.

“The threat quagga and zebra mussels pose to Utah’s waters is still very real,” Owens said.

Native to the Ukraine, quagga mussels were first discovered in U.S. waters in 1989 in the Great Lakes. By 2007, the first occurrence of quagga mussels west of the Continental Divide happened at Lake Mead.



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Amy Joi O'Donoghue
Amy Joi O’Donoghue is a reporter for the Utah InDepth team at the Deseret News with decades of expertise in land and environmental issues.


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