CBT joins cause to stop invasive mussels

A $360,000 cash injection from CBT will help double the number of mobile decontamination units geared toward stopping invasive mussels

A $360,000 cash injection from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) will help the province double the number of mobile decontamination units geared toward stopping invasive mussels from entering B.C. waterways.

“Preventing the threat of invasive mussels is critical to protecting our waterways for environmental, economic and recreational reasons, and has been identified as a priority by the residents that live here,” said Neil Muth, CBT president and CEO. “Increasing the level of protection in this region is key and we are pleased to support the prevention efforts this summer to keep mussels out of the Columbia Basin.”

The partnership between the Ministry of Environment-led Invasive Mussel Defence Program (which includes support from Columbia Power Corporation, FortisBC and four local invasive species councils — the East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council, Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society, Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society and the Northwest Invasive Plant Council) was announced on July 10th.

“Invasive mussels pose a threat to more than just ecosystems, but to drinking water facilities, hydro stations, agricultural irrigation and more,” said East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett in a recent press release. “This funding boost from Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and FortisBC allows the province to further strengthen efforts to stop zebra and quagga mussels from entering B.C.”

Three mobile inspection and decontamination units are going to be focused on stopping boats to ensure they are mussel-free. There will be teams based in Cranbrook, Valemount and Nelson to target travellers who are coming into B.C. from Alberta and the U.S. — which will double the provincial fleets that are dedicated to protecting water quality from quagga and zebra mussels.

“Preventing the introduction of zebra and quagga mussels is key because it only takes one boat with live mussels or their larvae to enter a waterway in B.C. to be catastrophic,” said Khaylish Fraser, aquatic invasive species program co-ordinator for the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society. “This is why it’s so important that this defence program continue beyond this summer and that it continues to expand here in the Columbia Basin and throughout the province.”

Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, pose a significant threat to Canada’s freshwater ecosystems and critical infrastructure such as hydroelectric and drinking water facilities.

No zebra or quagga mussels have ever been found in B.C. waterways, and the province is hard at work ensuring it stays that way.

“Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and FortisBC recognize the importance of Ministry of Environment Columbia Basin Trust protecting aquatic infrastructure and environments in B.C. from invasive mussels,” said Mary Polak, Minister of Environment. “Thanks to their generosity, we are doubling the number of mobile decontamination units aimed at ensuring these invasive species never enter our waterways. This is another step forward in our ongoing efforts