Tiny mussels could create big problem for water district that serves parts of SoCal

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The wet winter has raised water levels for many lakes in SoCal, but the discovery of microscopic larvae in an underground pipe system at one Inland Empire lake could lead to an expensive problem. (KABC)

The wet winter has raised water levels for many lakes in SoCal, but the discovery of microscopic larvae in an underground pipe system at one Inland Empire lake could lead to an expensive problem.

Paul Rochelle, with the Metropolitan Water District, said the recent discovery of the larvae could lead to a massive infestation of invasive mussels throughout the water project at Diamond Valley Lake.

"Everyone should be concerned. They are a nuisance," he said.

The mussels can cause problems to the infrastructure and they multiply. Rochelle said the adult has children, the children grown on those adults, then the babies have their own children and it turns into layers of mussels that can clog the pipes.

Fixing the clog would be expensive. The Colorado River Aqueduct System spent tens of millions of dollars over the course of 10 years to get rid of the pesky mussels. All of those costs get passed on to the customers.

"There's no public health threat. They're not dangerous. They're not harmful to people, but there is a cost concern. It does cost money to control if the infestation takes hold," Rochelle said.

But not everyone thinks the mussels are bad. Fisherman Kevin Gross said the mussels create a pretty strong fishing season at other lakes that have the mussels.

Still, Gross understands the importance of keeping his boat clean and having it properly inspected before putting it in the lake.

Related Topics:
newsenvironmentrainpipelinemoneytaxesHemetRiverside County
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