SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) — A mandatory boat inspection program continues to pay dividends for Lake Tahoe, a conservation agency said, as 36 boats harboring invasive plants, mussels and snails were prevented from entering the lake in 2013.
In all, 4,221 boats were decontaminated with hot water at roadside inspection stations last year to prevent invasive species from entering Tahoe’s waters, according to the California Resource Conservation District
In 2013, inspectors performed more than 7,000 new inspections as over 14,000 boats launched at Tahoe, including both newly inspected vessels and those with intact Tahoe-issued inspection seals.
Boat inspections began at Tahoe in 2008 to prevent the spread of invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels that can clog pipes and machinery.
The two dreaded mussels native to Eastern Europe can also overwhelm a lake’s natural ecosystem and cause blooms of noxious algae that reduce a lake’s clarity. Scientists have documented a steady and disturbing decline in Tahoe’s famed clarity for more than 40 years.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has been concerned about the threat since the quagga mussel first turned up in Lake Mead in 2007. They have since spread to other water bodies in southern Nevada and California.
Zebra mussels were found in 2008 in California’s San Justo Reservoir, about 250 miles from Lake Tahoe, but so far neither invader has been detected in Lake Tahoe.