Portland State University researchers recently revealed some bad news regarding the Columbia River Basin: Water chemistry and temperature there are sufficient, if not ideal, to support invasion by quagga and zebra mussels.
“We found that 68 percent of mussels raised in untreated Columbia River water gained weight,” said researchers Brian Adair. “This does not bode well for the Columbia.”
On a positive note, water in the Willamette appears only marginal for mussels, due to lower calcium levels.
Scientists obtained the results by placing mussels from Lake Mead in containers of untreated water from the two rivers. Then they observed the mussels as calcium concentrations and water temperatures were changed.
“This appears to confirm our fears that mussels would grow well in the Columbia,” said Bill Bradbury of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. “The results underscore the importance of the boat inspection programs and other efforts in our states to keep mussels out of Northwest waters.”
Researchers also are testing several types of coatings to see how well they inhibit mussel growth. Given acceptable surfaces, the shellfish block water intakes with their dense colonies, as well as deplete nutrients and smother fish habitat.
(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)