Beware Invasive Mussels: Popeye returns to Lakes Sonoma, Mendocino


    View Press Release Archive




    May 19, 2014 - For Immediate Release                                                         

    CONTACT: Brad Sherwood - Community & Governmental Affairs Manager: 707.547.1927 (Office), 707.322.8192 (Cell),

    (Santa Rosa, CA)  Beginning this Memorial Day weekend, Popeye the mussel-sniffing dog will return to Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino to inspect watercraft for invasive quagga and zebra mussels.  Boaters at both reservoirs will be asked to voluntarily allow Popeye to inspect their watercrafts for the thumb-sized mussels that have infested 27 reservoirs in California, causing millions in damage to water infrastructure and the environment.  If a mussel is found on a boat, the boat will not be allowed to launch and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be immediately notified. Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino are currently mussel free.

    The mussels reproduce quickly overtaking a waterway and destroying its natural habitats and fisheries, clog water infrastructure and result in millions of dollars in maintenance costs.  To date, the mussels have caused more than $500 million in water infrastructure damage nationwide.  Ongoing research has yet to formally find a method to removing the mussels from an infested waterway. 

    Boats are the primary vector for the spread of mussels from infested waterways to non-infested waterways.  The mussels first arrived in the Great Lakes from Europe in the 1980’s and have spread to many water bodies in the eastern and Midwestern United States, including California. The first confirmed find of zebra mussels in California occurred in 2008 in San Benito County at San Justo Reservoir.  That reservoir is now closed to boating recreation due to the mussel infestation. Quagga mussels have now been found in waterways within San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange counties.

    The voluntary mussel inspection program is sponsored by a North Coast consortium of local governments working together to develop a mandatory watercraft inspection program to help keep the mussels out of local waterways.  Learn more about the Consortium at


    The Sonoma County Water Agency is working to secure our future by investing in our water resources, community and environment.  The Water Agency provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at


    << back to All Press Releases