Statewide Mussel Prevention Funding Program Signed by Governor Brown

     

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    2012-09-25

    For Immediate Release
    September 25th 2012

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

    (Santa Rosa, CA)  The North Coast Consortium to prevent the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels is pleased to announce that Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on September 23 signed into law AB 2443 by Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) – Vessels: registration fee: Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention Program.  The Consortium actively supports the Governor signing the bill into law because it will provide much needed statewide funding (approximately $5 to $9 million) to help fight the spread of the invasive species by adding a maximum of no more than $10 to an annual fresh water vessel registration fee paid by the vessel owner to the Department of Boating and Waterways.  Existing law requires the owner of a vessel, or boat, to register the vessel with the Department of Boating and Waterways (department), in accordance with existing requirements. Fresh water vessels are the most common vector for the spread of the invasive mussels.  Mussels spread by hitchhiking on boats that have launched in infested waterways and then re-launch in non-infested waterways.  Mussels attach themselves to all parts of a boat and trailer.  The Consortium looks forward to working with the boating community to implement mussel prevention programs at North Coast waterways, including Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino.

    Assemblymember Das Williams stated, “We must do everything we can to protect our waterways and keep our water supply safe.  This bill will allow communities across California to act earlier to prevent mussel infestation and respond quicker to the significant problems they create.”

    Sonoma County Water Agency Director and Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire said, "We are grateful that the effort to stop the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels here on the North Coast has become law across the state. We want to thank Assemblyman Williams for authoring this important legislation and Governor Brown for signing this bill into law because it demonstrates the need for a more statewide approach to preventing these invasive mussels from destroying our waterways. We will be monitoring the implementation of this law closely and will continue to work with our partners to develop innovative solutions to this statewide problem."

    The funding will be used exclusively for the implementation and administration of quagga and zebra mussel monitoring, inspection, and infestation prevention programs.  An example of a prevention plan is that of the North Coast and Bay Area consortiums.  The North Coast Consortium’s prevention plan is available at www.dontmoveamussel.com.  The funding will help prevent the spread of the invasive mussels which have already infested 25 water bodies in California causing millions of dollars in damage to water infrastructure, forever changing fisheries habitats and have caused the closure of at least one recreational boating waterway (San Justo Reservoir). 

    The Department of Boating and Waterways will determine the fee amount by consulting with a technical advisory group, which would be established by the department. The bill also requires the department to adopt an emergency regulation to prescribe procedures for the collection and use of the fee.  The bill adds Article 1.3 (commencing with Section 675) to Chapter 5 of Division 3 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, and to amend Sections 9853, 9860, and 9863 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vessels.

    Funding will be made available through a competitive grant process.  Funding priority will be given to those entities that have dreissenid mussel infestation prevention plans that are consistent with Section 2302 of the Fish and Game Code and that also include visual and manual inspection standards and other infestation prevention procedures consistent with either the Department of Fish and Game’s Invasive Mussel Guidebook for Recreational Water Managers and Users, dated September 2010, or the Natural Resource Agency’s Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan, dated January 2008, or subsequently adopted guidebooks and management plans.  The department will also take into consideration the benefits of regional-scale dreissenid mussel infestation prevention plans and the unique economic, ecological, and recreational impacts to rural and urban reservoirs from dreissenid mussel infestation.

    Quagga and zebra mussels, nonnative dreissenid mussels introduced in the United States from Europe in 1988, pose an immediate and significant threat to California’s water supply, flood control, power generation, and aquatic recreation infrastructure. Once established in a body of freshwater, quagga and zebra mussels latch onto pipes, valves, screens, irrigation canals, and gates, often in quantities that severely impede the movement of water and the necessary operation of other critical water management infrastructure.

    Quagga and zebra mussel infestation poses tremendous financial burdens on local governments and local economies. Between 2000 and 2010, widespread zebra mussel infestation of the Great Lakes region resulted in over $5 billion in economic impacts. Were it to become infested, California’s Lake Tahoe alone would likely incur economic impacts of over $20 million annually.

    The North Coast Consortium is actively working to implement its prevention plan at regional waterways, including Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino.  A public meeting has been scheduled on October 10 at 6:30pm at the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Chambers to discuss how the plan will be implemented, including the proposed boat inspection process. 

    About the North Coast Consortium:  A consortium of North Coast and North Bay local governments and stakeholders are joining together to prevent the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels into our local waterways.  The Consortium is working together to develop and implement a regional prevention plan, public service announcements, generate state and federal funding support and collaborate with regulators on how to best prevent and manage the mussels.  To date, the following entities are Consortium members:  Humboldt County, Mendocino County, Sonoma County, Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, Sonoma County Water Agency, Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District, and the Redwood Valley County Water District.

    More information about this new law, how it will be implemented, and how the North Coast Consortium is working to keep mussels out of our waterways, please visit www.dontmovemussel.com

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    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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