"Of Mussels, Repo Men and the Law"

"As Lake Mead’s water levels drop, the alkaline-laced minerals bleaching the 100-foot 'bathtub rings' there are bleaching something else: nets of interlaced quagga mussels just above the water line. The mussels, an invasive species that has cost local governments nationwide tens of millions of dollars, showed up in force there three years ago, spreading all over the bottom and up the cliffs on the Arizona and Nevada sides of the reservoir.

As California fish and game officials put it: 'The establishment of an invasive mussel population wreaks havoc with the environment, disrupting the natural food chain and releasing toxins that affect other species. Spread of the Quagga could result in millions of dollars in damage to water transport facilities.'

Now those who transport the pipe-clogging, pump-destroying shellfish (and their close cousins, zebra mussels) can be found on the 'Wanted' posters of law enforcement agencies around the West."

Felicity Barringer reports for the New York Times' Green blog September 14, 2010.


Source: Green (NYT), 09/15/2010