Topic 7: A quagga mussel infestation would threaten the pipeline, local reservoirs, municipal infrastructure, businesses, and homes, and reduce our water quality.

What the Draft EIS says or doesn’t say:

  • BOR acknowledges that transferring water from Lake Powell to Sand Hollow Reservoir near Hurricane, Utah, could introduce invasive aquatic organisms to the Virgin River basin and municipal water supplies.
  • BOR assures us that, should Sand Hollow Reservoir become infested with quagga mussels, despite all the prevention and control measures outlined in Section 1.3 of Appendix C-12, Aquatic Invasive Species, there are measures that could control any transfer to the Virgin River (see Section 2.2.2 in Appendix C-12, Aquatic Invasive Species).
  • BOR fails to adequately address the potential cost to eradicate quagga mussels in systems operated by either WCWCD or municipalities, or in individual homes.
  • BOR fails to analyze the effect and cost of chemicals used to eradicate quagga mussels, and potential effects on the quality and safety of drinking water.

Why this is a problem:

  • Quagga mussels have moved across our country to infest many water bodies; they can plug even large-diameter water lines, resulting in treatment costs of millions of dollars.
  • Quagga mussels are a non-native nuisance species that cause severe economic and ecological damage. Since 2012, thousands of adult quagga mussels have been found in Lake Powell attached to canyon walls, the Glen Canyon Dam, boats, and other underwater structures.
  • The UDWRe’s “November 2015 Draft Study Report 2 Aquatic Resources” noted “[Quagga mussels] have demonstrated the potential to both damage ecosystems and to require significant and costly, but often fruitless, investment to manage and control their effects on structures and equipment in the water supply industry.”
  • In 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) expressed concerns to the Utah Department of Water Resources (UDWRe) about transferring water from Lake Powell to Sand Hollow. Utah Water Development Commission members also voiced concerns about the spread of quagga mussels to municipal and industrial water systems.
  • BOR proposes a chemical room in every pump station, but UDWRe acknowledges that it “may not be possible to absolutely manage this potential problem to any practical extent…”
  • Treating quagga mussels poses water quality concerns because the treatment used creates Trihalomethanes (THM’s) when chlorine reacts with organic matter in water.
  • Studies show mussels are expensive to treat, and no treatment thus far has been foolproof because the filters cannot filter out the very early microscopic life stage.

Commenting guidance

  • The BOR failed to analyze the effect and cost of chemicals used to eradicate quagga mussels, potential effects on the quality and safety of drinking water, and potential pollution of aquifer storage beneath Sand Hollow Reservoir.
  • The BOR must include in the DEIS the risks and implications if mitigation measures are not successful since this will be the first major pipeline that will have to deal with the quagga mussel.
  • The BOR must analyze the effects on water quality from quagga mussel waste products (e.g., sulfites, sulfates, nitrogen, ammonia, etc.) and decomposition within the pipeline and their ability to spread toxic algae.
  • The BOR must evaluate the potential economic cost of treating quagga mussels in the pipeline, reservoirs, municipal systems, businesses, and homes.

Personal Note/Experience:

  • Do you have personal experience with quagga mussels in Lake Powell or elsewhere? Summarize that experience in your comments.
  • Does it disturb you to learn that we are this far in the LPP planning process and the state has no real plan to ensure that the LPP will not bring the quagga mussel to Washington County water supplies and facilities? Express to the BOR that your concerns are not addressed in the DEIS.