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Zebra Mussels Invade Lake Waco

A cluster of zebra mussels.

Zebra mussels have been found in Lake Waco. The invasive shellfish are worrisome because they can clog pipes to the water system and power plants. 

Joe Bernosky is the directory of water utility services with the city of Waco. He says the zebra mussels were originally found near Ridgeland Country Club and the city is still trying to figure out how far they’ve spread.

"We may try some physical methods to remove them, to kill them right at that location," Bernosky said. "But if the biological testing indicates they have spread throughout the lake, there really is nothing they can do, all you can do is control their ability to block the water inlet and somewhat."

Bernosky says there’s no danger to the safety or taste of Waco’s drinking water. The only way to combat zebra mussels is to physically remove them or use a bleach-like material to get them out of piping.

Zebra mussels are native to Russia, but they’ve been making their way across the country and Texas. In mid-September they were found in Lake Belton the farthest south they’ve been found in the state. Brian Van Zee is a regional director for Texas Parks and Wildlife, based in Waco. He says Zebra mussels reproduce very rapidly.

"When they get real high abundances zebra mussels are very prolific one female can spawn up to a million eggs in a year potentially and then also they’re very very effective filter feeders," Van Zee said." One adult zebra mussel can filter up to a liter a day."

Officials say the mussels came to Lake Waco in the spring.