Vexing mussels: Officials concede defeat at Lake Powell, seek to contain invasive species

Published: Monday, May 19 2014 6:20 p.m. MDT

Emery County Commissioner J.R. Nelson said tackling the Quagga mussels in Lake Powell takes a united effort, not only from various agencies, but from all Utahns.

"If we don't get help from the general public on this, we're toast," Nelson said. "This is frightening. This is huge. This could be devastating to all water users in Utah. … Yes, Lake Powell is perhaps a lost cause, but we don't want to have any other lost causes in Utah."

Monday's meeting, with various participants from across the state interested in protecting Utah's waterways, spoke to the importance of coordinating and working together.

"I think it's going to be a concerted effort from all parties involved," Nelson said. "We all need to come together and fight an invasion of an ugly, invasive species."

Jay Humphrey, with the Emery Water Conservancy District, said the spread of Quagga mussels beyond Lake Powell to Emery County would force the county to cut off water to residents, farmers and power plants.

"In our area, it would devastate our economy," Humphrey said. "We're very concerned."

That's why he said he's not satisfied with the National Park Service's plan to focus on educating boaters. Humphrey said education was the plan before, and it failed.

"There is more (that) could be done," he said. "Boats could be decontaminated as they left the reservoir. We also could check all the boats entering our waters if we had a boater identification system. … They need to know where these boats have been, and the honor system doesn't work all the time."

Monday's meeting was important in that it brought together a range of agencies, including representatives from water districts across the state, Humphrey said.

"This is the first time we ever sat together and talked about this problem, how it would affect each of the districts," he said, "and there was some plans that came out of it that maybe we could find a solution to the problem."

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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