Invasive species makes home in Round Rock's water intake

An invasive species is "musseling" its way into Round Rock's water intake system.

Zebra mussels are clogging the pipes at the local lakes, including Georgetown, where the Round Rock gets its water supply. "Once they get into these lakes it's very difficult to get rid of them," said Michael Thane, the City of Round Rock Director of Utilities.

The zebra mussel problem began to surface in Central Texas about a year ago.

"We've notice a significant increase in the number of mussel especially in our intake structures," said Thane. The main way these mussels move around lake to lake is by hitching a ride on boats or any vehicle that was in the water, if you don't properly clean it.

For Round Rock, the problem is where these mussels are now making their home.

"They like to attach to metal structures which is the intake the screen and ultimately they get into the pipes where we push the water to our water treatment plants," said Thane. Get enough in the system and the pipes which give water to the city get clogged. Once these things get anchored in an area, getting them out isn't smooth sailing. "A female can produce about a million larvae a year and they produce a lot but only about 10% survive," said Thane.

With how fresh the problem is, Thane said there are few options to reel in the issue. "Physical try to scrape them off and doing that you have to go down there and dive periodically," said Thane.

One option which Thane said is gaining popularity from other cities is using sodium permanganate to kill them. "Does not affect the water that we send to the water treatment plants and it's not harmful at all," said Thane. With water being a necessity during this dry summer, Thane hopes they can mussel their way out of this problem.

If you're caught transporting a zebra mussel it can lead to a hefty fine have about $500 and if you continue to do so it can even lead to jail time.