Zebra Mussels Found in Lake Housatonic, CT

Zebra Mussels, photo Wikimedia.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has confirmed that zebra mussels, an invasive species of bivalves, have been found in Lake Housatonic, a long, narrow impoundment on the Housatonic River.

Outreach and Education are often the most effective tools to control the introduction and spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species.

The adult zebra mussels were found by divers working for Biodrawversity LLC, the consulting firm hired by DEEP to survey for zebra mussels in the Housatonic River system and other nearby high-calcium-content waters.

Lake Housatonic, located in Derby, Monroe, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton, is the most downstream of the 3 large impoundments of the Housatonic River. The adult zebra mussels were found on the lake bottom in the southern end of the lake.

The presence of zebra mussels is not unexpected, as the mussels were found in Lakes Zoar and Lillinonah, 2 large impoundments located immediately upstream of Lake Housatonic, in November 2010. Zebra mussels were first found in the Housatonic River in 2009, in Laurel Lake in Lee, Massachusetts. Subsequent sampling found them in the lake’s outflow into the mainstem river.

SAT map of Lake Housatonic.

Zebra mussels have fairly specific water chemistry requirements and are limited to waters with moderate to high calcium concentrations and pH. In Connecticut, suitable habitat for zebra mussels is mostly limited to a number of water bodies in western portions of the state. Under highly favorable conditions, the mussel can foul boat hulls and engine cooling water systems and clog power plant, industrial and public drinking water intakes.

While zebra mussels can be spread by natural methods, such as birds and by drift of larval stages, boaters and anglers can also transport them unwittingly when they move from infected waters to clean waters.

Outreach and Education (properly checking, cleaning boats, gear, etc) are often the most effective tools to control the introduction and spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species. For well over 10 years, education appears to have prevented their spread from the Twin Lakes (Salisbury) to nearby waters suitable for zebra mussels. Since they were first found in East Twin Lake in 1998, information about the presence of zebra mussels has been posted at access points to the two lakes, in DEEP’s annual publication for anglers, the “CT Angler’s Guide”, and included in the approved permit packets for fishing tournaments.

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