PREVENTING AN INVASIVE SPECIES FROM 'MUSSELING' IN
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by Jan Rose
General manager Ivan Friesen of the Eastern Irrigation District (EID) a few minutes west of Calgary is diplomatic when asked if boaters who refuse to have their watercraft inspected for zebra mussels would be forbidden to use Lake Newell, a human-made reservoir south of the community.
"We would do our best to do that," he said.
Instead of being confrontational they ask visitors to stop by the office to determine where the boat has been and where they're from to determine if action is required. If the boat is from an area that may have mussels, paperwork or some background information is requested. If there isn't any documentation a visitor is asked "politely" not to use the water, Friesen explained.
District board member Rod Johnson said at an earlier meeting he would like to see mandatory inspections at all of the local docks. While it's compulsory for inspections at stations set up along Alberta's highways for out of province watercraft, there's no legislation at the local level. Failure to stop at a station can net a fine up to $100,000. In early May a boat en route to a lake from Manitoba was found to have mussels.
Alberta has been vigorous in inspections to prevent the mussels from entering the province which have proliferated in Lake Winnipeg, taking over many beaches. They have also been detected in Montana immediately to the south of the province.
The EID has been closely monitoring water bodies in the district since Lake Newell provides water for the whole region.
Potash has shown promise to control the invasive species in Lake Winnipeg but not eradicate it.