Prize competition seeks to eradicate mussels in U.S. waters

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation has launched a prize competition seeking “innovative solutions for the 100-percent eradication of invasive quagga and zebra mussels from large reservoirs, lakes and rivers in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner.”

Reclamation says invasive mussel infestations pose significant logistical challenges for local communities, recreationists and water managers by potentially disrupting water deliveries, increasing facility maintenance cost, and impacting the local ecology. For hydropower specifically, mussels cause significant difficulties because of their rapid growth and ability to attach to steel and concrete structures. They grow one on top of another, creating layers of organic buildup that are very difficult to remove.

Solutions proposed for this competition may be novel treatments or approaches that build upon existing treatments. They must be specific to invasive mussels without significant harm to non-target organisms such as native mussels or threatened and endangered species. They must be in compliance with existing federal discharge permits and environmental protection regulations or must be implementable with reasonable modifications to existing regulations.

The $100,000 prize purse will be divided among a maximum of five winners. Reclamation is collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Molloy & Associates.

The first step is a theoretical challenge, requiring the submission of a white paper that describes novel treatments/methods for open-water mussel eradication

If the first step is successful, the next is to provide proof-of-concept in a laboratory-scale demonstration. The final step will be field-scale demonstrations.

The competition closes Feb. 28, 2018. Click here for more information.

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the U.S. and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power.

Reclamation and mussels

Reclamation says zebra and quagga mussels have spread into fresh waterways across the U.S. since the 1980s, attaching to and clogging all types of submerged surfaces, including water intakes, trashracks, cooling water piping and fire control systems.

Reclamation has long been working to control invasive mussels in the western U.S. Earlier this year, the bureau announced it would use hydro-optic disinfection ultraviolet light technology units supplied by Atlantium Technologies to control biofouling at its 2,080-MW Hoover Dam hydro power facility.

An entire section of Reclamation’s website is dedicated to this topic.

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