Meddling Mollusks: Creatures from Hell

Who knew a tiny mussel could turn out to be a real pain in the backside?  I suppose we can thank Russian ships for depositing this creature into the Great Lakes during the late 80s.  Foreign ships were supposed to empty their ballasts prior to entering the waterways leading to the Great Lakes and it is highly likely these invasive pests were introduced by a ship that emptied too late or one that carried them in on anchor or some other area. 

Once in the waters near Michigan, they spread throughout the Great Lakes like a bad rash.  They multiplied and have now layered the bottom of the Great Lakes and other areas.  Massive drifts of their detrital bodies 2 to 3 feet deep lie along areas of Lake Michigan.  The lake is so clear, having been filtered dry of phyto and zoo-plankton, it has become a hostile environment for fish and other wildlife.  The mussels can drift and attach to anything floating through the water, and it is likely that barges and watercraft aided in spreading them south throughout rivers.  They are located in most of the major rivers from Michigan spreading outward.  You may locate a map from the USGS here:  http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=5
According to the map, the mussels made it to Lake Texoma in 2009 and in 2010 they were found established in Sister Grove Creek a mere handful of miles from Lake Lavon.  They were even collected in the marina at Lake Ray Hubbard in 2011.  At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before they call Lake Lavon home. 

Unfortunately, they wreak havoc by colonizing in and ultimately clogging pumps and pipes, so I wonder then how is it our North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) believe they will pump water from Lake Texoma to a new plant in Wylie and treat the water here?  Something seems awfully awry with that thought process, don’t you think?

I write about this topic because of a Letter to the Editor of the Wylie News written by Larry Martin of Van Alstyne.  I’m sure some people read the article, rolling their eyes thinking, “There goes another naysayer radical.”  Mr. Martin’s argument is that the NTMWD is stealing people’s land away from them at less than fair market value, through the brute force tactics of eminent domain, in order to build this pipeline from Lake Texoma to Lake Lavon.  I can only think perhaps Mr. Martin has land that is being affected by this situation, yet he has a very valid point when we examine this complex picture a little deeper. 

I sat through a Wylie City Council meeting a year or so ago where this very topic was discussed.  Many options were considered as a means of controlling the mussel population in Texoma.  Sand filtration was one option, but it was very expensive, adding high levels of chlorine was another option but it wasn’t prudent.  The most obvious option was to just plain shut off the water source from Lake Texoma to Lake Lavon and buy themselves some time to come up with a cost effective solution.  Council made the decision and the water source was turned off.  Soon after, very tight water restrictions were set in action all over North Texas communities that receive their water from Lavon. 

Now think back to this time last summer.  We went to our boat slip at the lake to find our boat sitting in the mud at the bottom of the lake.  Quite literally, there was no water in Lake Lavon’s outer reaches.   All of the ramps had been closed.  We were out of the state when the notice came to get our boat out of the water, and we could not get back in time so we were in it for the long haul.  There our boat sat in the mud for the next 4 months until the spring rains helped us out.  The surrounding communities who tap into the water at Lake Lavon had nearly sucked it dry, all because the traffic of water from Texoma to Lavon was stopped up in order to keep the zebra mussel at bay.  Dry and parched, the Lake remained nothing more than a cracked desert because the suggestion that adding filtration that would not get clogged by the mussel minutiae at Texoma would be cost prohibitive.  Now think forward to this Letter to the Editor at how the NTMWD is building a pipeline to treat the water here.  Currently being built is possibly a hundred miles of pipeline ripe for the mollusk clogging.  Now there’s some good old-fashioned horse sense for you.

I believe Mr. Martin is on to something with the NTMWDs underlying rationale behind building this pipeline.  How does the NTMWD intend to keep this pipe from getting clogged with this pest, rendering it useless?  Over the years, will they be pumping infested water through breached and broken pipes caused by our highly expansive soils, risking dumping these invasive species, as it would seem?  Are they playing with fire in order to gain control of the waters of Lake Texoma before some other entity does?  It seems to me that where the NTMWD is involved, there must be some big money to be had.  NTMWDs motive for this pipeline and subsequent eminent domain land seizures absolutely comes into play in this discussion.  What exactly are they up to and what is the underlying motive because pipelining the pipe-clogging mussels isn’t it?  They are up to something, they always are and I am not the only one to see this.