Province Adds Decontamination Units, Surveillance To Fight Against Zebra Mussels

Last Updated: 2014/07/02 05:55:20 AM

Harbour Treatment Complete;

Monitoring, Boater Compliance is Key:  Minister Mackintosh

June 18, 2014

The province confirms the first steps taken to fight zebra mussels on Lake Winnipeg are now complete and ongoing monitoring and containment efforts will be significantly expanded this summer by monitoring additional sites and increasing the number of portable decontamination units, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

"We took the bold step to treat the four affected harbours this spring and those treatments went very well but that was only the first step in the battle against zebra mussels," Minister Mackintosh said.  "Now it's time for all lake users to join the fight and increase their vigilance to ensure we don't give these intruders a certain foothold in Lake Winnipeg."

Phase one of the zebra mussel treatment program is complete following successful application at the four harbours that had shown signs of zebra mussels.  The Winnipeg Beach, Gimli, Arnes and Balsam Bay harbours were treated with liquid potash and all testing indicates that no zebra mussels have survived.

Manitoba Hydro has also purchased three portable decontamination units, valued at approximately $85,000, bringing the total number of units in the province to five.  Decontamination units are high-heat, high-pressure mobile units that purge aquatic invasive species (AIS) from boats entering Manitoba.  These units will be used by watercraft inspectors to clean boats that are considered to be a risk to introduce or spread zebra mussels. 

 

"Manitoba Hydro wants to stop the spread of zebra mussels," said Scott Thomson, president and chief executive officer, Manitoba Hydro.  "The impact they could have on our generating stations is significant.  That's why we are aiding in the fight against zebra mussels by purchasing these mobile decontamination units.  Anything we can do to prevent the spread of this invasive species and avoid the impacts that other utilities have seen on their operations is a good business and environmental decision."

In addition to watercraft inspections, the province is significantly increasing lake monitoring and will work with various stakeholders including some of those involved in the treatment and control project, the minister said.  Throughout the summer, hundreds of samples will be taken from numerous locations throughout Lake Winnipeg including the treated harbours.

Other high-risk water bodies will be sampled based on boat traffic.  Docks and dry-docked boats within the treated harbours and navigations buoys will be inspected in the fall.  This includes the Namao research vessel.

This summer, watercraft inspection teams with the decontamination units will be stationed at key locations such as Manitoba entry points and busy launch sites such as Gimli, Winnipeg Beach and Selkirk Park to create awareness and reduce the chance of further transfer.

Boaters have a vital role to play in keeping the lake and other water bodies free of AIS, said the minister, adding Manitoba will reinforce that message through public awareness, a media campaign and the use of social media.

Boaters need to know it is illegal to possess or release AIS in Manitoba and there are set penalties for doing so up to $100,000. 

Manitobans are reminded to take a few simple precautions every time watercraft, trailers and/or water-based gear is moved between bodies of water.  This includes:

* cleaning and removing all plants, animals and mud;

* draining all water from motors, live wells, bilge, ballast tanks and bait buckets;

* drying all gear completely; and

* disposing of unwanted bait and worms in the trash.

These easy steps can prevent the introduction or reduce the further spread of aquatic invasive species.  

For more information on zebra mussels and AIS, or to report a finding, go

to:

www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/waterstewardship/stopais.