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Zebra mussels found in Belton Lake


Zebra mussels have now infested Lake Belton and many are wondering what's next.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Thursday announced zebra mussels were discovered Sept. 18 in Belton Lake. It's the first time zebra mussels were documented in the Brazos River basin, nearly 200 miles south of where the mussels previously were found in Texas.

Officials confirmed three sizes of zebra mussels at Belton Lake - indicating the creatures were likely introduced to the reservoir in 2012.

John Tibbs with the Texas parks and wildlife says just one boat could have caused the infestation.

"You pull a boat out of here you can be transporting those veligers and you go to another lake and you go oh I have water in my boat and you bilge it out and you just introduced thousands of these guys to the new lake," Tibbs said.

As of today an executive order is in place making it illegal to take your boat out of Lake Belton without cleaning, draining and drying it. Tibbs also says any boat that has been in the lake for a long period of time could need a costly cleaning.

All of this makes marinas a little concerned about the future.

"We have to inform all our customers now, all the complaints will be coming at us and nothing we can do just happens. We really got the short end of the stick on this one," Frank's Marina employee Daniel Holman said.

The manager at Frank's Marina on Belton Lake says he's not too worried about losing business or people leaving the docks. Holman, though, isn't too sure.

"Business here is going to be a lot tighter. People might be vacating slips... this is just going to be all around disaster," Holman said.

There are some costly consequences if the zebra mussels take over the lake. That's because one mussel can turn into one million in one year. That amount of mussels can wreak havoc on the waters.

"They'll stick to each other and they'll stick to water pipes and then they'll fill it up and you won't be able to get water through the pipes until they're cleaned," Tibbs said.

Tibbs says there are water intakes on the lake and if the zebra mussels get in them, it can cost millions to get them out. As far as getting them out of the lake entirely, that could cost a lot more.

"It's virtually impossible, they can be eradicated in very small ponds. There's a few small success stories but we're talking this lake, not going to happen," Tibbs said.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife also found the possible presence of zebra mussels in Lakes Worth and Joe Pool.

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