Popeye the Mussel-Sniffing Dog to Inspect Boats at Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino


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    For Immediate Release
    May 13th 2013

    Brad Sherwood
    Community & Governmental Affairs Manager
    Office: (707) 547-1927
    Mobile: (707) 322-8192
    Email: sherwood@scwa.ca.gov

    (Santa Rosa, CA) Popeye the mussel-sniffing dog is returning to Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino this summer 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 26 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.Popeye the Mussel Dog

    “Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino are currently mussel free, but if we’re not proactive mussels could end up in our waterways unintentionally carried by boats and other watercraft,” said Sonoma County Water Agency Director and Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire. “These tiny mussels can cause a huge problem for our water infrastructure and precious fishery restoration programs due to their ability to reproduce quickly and no known method to removing them from an infested waterway.”

    Mendocino County Supervisor and Mendocino County Water Agency Director Carre Brown added, “If mussels enter our reservoirs, boating recreation could be banned and water supply pipelines clogged. This would result in a huge negative impact to our local economy as both reservoirs bring in nearly $10 million a year into our local communities. To remove a mussel from a pipe, you have to either physically remove each by hand, or replace each pipeline; both are extremely expensive options.”

    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.

    Popeye will randomly inspect boats at both reservoirs between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. according to the below schedule:

    Lake Sonoma: May 25th, July 6th, August 3rd and August 31st

    Lake Mendocino: May 26th, July 7th, August 4th and September 1st

    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.mussels

    "Sonoma County Water Agency's efforts to keep invasive quagga and zebra mussels out of Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino is a great example of the valuable water resource partner the Water Agency is for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ San Francisco District," said Mike Dillabough, chief of Operations and Readiness Division.

    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 www.dontmoveamussel.com.



    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 www.sonomacountywater.org.



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