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Pierre prepares water system for invasive mussel

Game Fish and Parks

The city of Pierre is constructing a new water system that will draw from the Missouri River, and the $37 million project includes precautions against invasive zebra mussels.

Delvin DeBoer, a special project engineer with AE2S in Sioux Falls, is helping the city with plans to prevent the mussels from attaching to the infrastructure.

"There’s actually two parts then to protecting the system against zebra mussels," DeBoer said. "One is to provide a screen that the zebra mussels won’t grow on, and the second is to provide this liquid substance that will prevent their growth inside the pipes.”

The liquid substance is a diluted copper solution, either copper ion or Zequanox, that inhibits zebra mussels’ ability to grow or reproduce. The city of Pierre applied for a general permit to inject the solution into the intake pipes when needed.

DeBoer said zebra mussels are an invasive species that cause problems when they attach to intake screens and piping. If this happens, it can cost thousands of dollars in maintenance to unclog the pipes.

Additionally, zebra mussels are harmful to South Dakota’s ecosystems because they are prone to crowd out native mussels and have been known to over-filter aquatic environments in other states, by removing too many nutrients from the water.

Nick Harrington, communications manager for the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department, said boaters can accidentally transport the mussels to new bodies of water if they neglect to take the necessary precautions.

“When it comes to zebra mussel prevention, clean, drain, dry is what we need to remember," Harrington said. "We don’t want to be transporting any water, whether that’s through our bait buckets, whether that’s through our live wells or whether that’s through our boat plugs.”

Harrington said zebra mussels are found in Lake Sharpe, just downstream from Pierre along the Missouri River. Lake Mitchell is the most recent area in South Dakota where zebra mussels were found last year.

Laura (she/her) is based at the Sioux Falls Studio. She is a journalism/anthropology student at Augustana University.
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