A bill aimed at stopping the spread of tiny but destructive mussels cleared its first hurdle Wednesday with a committee's approval.
They're known as zebra or quagga mussels and they can reproduce quickly once established in a body of water. Then they can wreak havoc on power and water infrastructures, damage ecosystems and destroy recreation areas and equipment.
Two tests taken last July showed that the microscopic larvae of the invasive species were present near Lake Powell's Glen Canyon Dam. But so far, the closest the mussels have come to Utah waters is Lake Mead on the border of Nevada and Arizona.
The fear is that boaters coming from Lake Mead will carry hitchhiking mussels, which without being treated could find a new home in Utah. Sen. Jon Greiner, R-Ogden, hopes his bill will lead to broader education of how to stop the spread of mussels and to more inspection and treatment measures in place around Utah waters. Greiner's SB238 would also establish financial and criminal penalties for someone who knowingly introduces the invasive mussels into Utah or refuses to cooperate with efforts to stop their spread.