Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

SD conservation group finances economic impact study on zebra mussels

Zebra Muscle reminder
Zebra Muscle reminder

A new study from a state conservation group said zebra mussels could have a negative impact on the South Dakota economy.

The South Dakota Lakes and Streams Association, orSDLSA, is actively studying the economic impact zebra mussels and other invasive water species are having on local waters.

Deb Soholt is an SDLSA Board Member and former state legislator. She said the study is essential to understanding how to stop invasive species from spreading in state waterways.

“Not just zebra mussels, but the invasive weeds that follow. It’s kind of like the zebra mussels are the start, and then it clears up the water because they’re such filterers, and then we end up with invasive weeds following. So, it’s really a concern about a threat to all of our waters,” said Soholt.

According to the SDLSA, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has already taken steps to make equipment changes atGavin’s Point Dam, replacing a piping system that was threatened due to invasive water species.

Soholt’s said the only way to tackle the problem is by working together.

“It’s something that’s going to take all of us. It’s not just something the government can do, its going to have to be a public-private partnership. To help contain, help to mitigate, wait for the science to catch up. So that we can actually eradicate the zebra mussels," said Soholt.

She said the economic impact study could take up to two years to complete, and the SDLSA will most likely provide updates once or twice a year.

“Along the way, there will probably be early assumptions that have been adequately validated. So our intention is every six to eight months, to provide updated information about where the study is at. Because that’s a long time to wait for results,” said Soholt.

Soholt said the SDLSA started its economic impact study in August of 2023. The group hopes to track all invasive water species across the state for the next two years.

They hope to present their finds findings from their study to the state legislator.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.