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Discovery of adult mussel in central Arizona lake could impact water users

Canyon Lake in Tortilla Flat, Arizona. (Photo: @bcm79/Google Maps)

PHOENIX — The discovery of an adult quagga mussel in a central Arizona lake could impact large groups of people who use the lake, according to a recent press release.

The quagga mussel was found in Canyon Lake, a lake located on the Tonto National Forest in Tortilla Flat, Arizona. The mussels are notorious for colonizing on hard surfaces, ruining recreational watercraft motors, altering water quality and clogging water intake structures.

Officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program located the mussel back in mid-December, when they noticed it was attached to the hull of a boat recently removed from the lake.

Sampling performed by the organization in October and November of last year found evidence that suggested quagga mussels are able to survive and reproduce in the lake.

Due to the discovery, the organization will be “ramping up” its monitoring efforts at both Canyon Lake and the nearby Saguaro Lake, according to the press release.

Officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department said they will expedite plans to utilize grant money to add personnel in the Mesa region and purchase several mobile watercraft decontamination units to aid in cleaning and decontaminating the Salt River chain of lakes.

Tom McMahon with the department said in the release that even though officials have discovered one mussel so far, that does not mean the entire lake is contaminated.

“The Department recognizes that finding one adult quagga mussel and indications of reproduction do not mean total infestation at the lake,” the release read. “But all recreationists and boaters need to remember to clean, drain and dry their watercraft and equipment after every use to minimize the looming threat of a full-blown infestation in this system, and perhaps statewide.”

Nearby Saguaro Lake is connected to the lower Salt River to Granite Reef Dam, the Salt River Project Canal Systems and Tempe Town Lake, meaning the water in those areas could be affected as well.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials recommend boaters and other water recreationists to clean, drain and dry their equipment before transporting it.

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