Zebra mussels hit Round Rock Water Treatment Plant

The draining of these water basins is what reveal the infestation at the Round Rock Water Treatment Plant. The discovery of zebra mussels didn’t come as a complete surprise but plant Supervisor Brandon Pritchett told FOX 7 Austin it did happed fast. 

“It was almost overnight, within a year we went from not at all, no noticeable population of zebra mussels, to actually showing up at the plant inside of our treatment process,” said Pritchett.

Most of the zebra mussels were in a deep compartment. They were scooped up, hauled out and dumped into a small field. The pile is a mixture of mussels and Asian clams.

Read Invasive species 'mussels' it's way into Austin Water

All of it is just from six months of water coming into the plant.

The zebra mussels are next to a larger pile that, according to Pritchett, is comprised only of the asian clams. It’s was made from clean up work that took all of last year.

Asian clams started to appear seven years ago but they’re easier to flush out than the zebra mussels.

Confirmation of an emerging zebra mussel problem came when this underwater video surfaced. A diver was hired in August to do an inspection. He found thousands of zebra mussels growing on intake pipes and grates. Clusters were also on bolts and braces, places where none existed during previous inspections.

The Round Rock Water Treatment Plant is rated to push out more than 50 million gallons of water a day. This time of year it’s more like 15 million gallons a day. The pumping station for all of that water is located in Lake Georgetown,about 9 miles from away.

That’s where all the zebra mussels are coming from.

The intake pipes are located on the south bank of the lake. Not far from the dam and across from an overlook where we ran into Stephanie Hynes and her mom.

They’ve heard the warnings about how zebra mussels are easily transferred into lakes by boats and fishing gear. “Yeah I think it’s just important to keep your boat clean and be careful and be considerate of your surroundings and the people around you,” said Hynes.

Read Boaters beware of transporting zebra mussels

Water quality is not affected by the troublesome invasive species but they do pose a threat to equipment at treatment plants. “The plan is to protect the massive infrastructure which is the pumps the pipeline and everything in between,” said Pritchett.

That will involve a lot more scrubbing. In the coming months another set of water basins is scheduled to be drained. After that’s done, Pritchett expects the pile of zebra mussels and clams out back will become four times larger than what it is now.