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Divers confirm effective treatment of Christmas Lake zebra mussels

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Potash solution is injected into one of six holes
Potash solution is injected into one of six holes drilled in Christmas Lake
as part of an experimental effort to control zebra mussels.


DULUTH, MN ----- April 20, 2015   --  Initial searches indicate a three-step treatment of Christmas Lake in Shorewood for zebra mussels has been effective, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The results show the successful treatment of a small, isolated infestation of zebra mussels that was detected early.

A survey April 13 by divers from Blue Water Science and Waterfront Restorations found no evidence of zebra mussels. The dive was conducted inside and directly outside the treatment area around the public boat access in the city of Shorewood.

“We are encouraged by these early results,” said Keegan Lund, DNR aquatic invasive species specialist. “We used every available tool to respond to this isolated zebra mussel infestation and learned valuable information in terms of responding to new infestations.”

The Christmas Lake treatment is one in a series of urgent responses targeting small, isolated, and recently detected infestations of zebra mussels. Previous urgent response treatments of isolated infestations in other lakes have produced mixed results. The information gained from these treatments will help the DNR determine when, where, and how to treat new zebra mussel infestations most effectively.

DNR officials said the key to this positive step and any future pilot projects is the partnership between local governments, researchers and the DNR. In this case, the partnership of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD), the city of Shorewood, and invasive species researchers from the University of Minnesota, working closely with DNR staff, was critical to implementing this treatment.

Zequanox, a natural substance highly selective to zebra and quagga mussels, was first applied to the treatment area in September. That application was followed by a copper treatment of EarthTec QZ in October and November. In December, a contractor working with the DNR injected 1,000 pounds of potassium chloride (potash) under the ice near the public boat access. It was only the third time potash was used for zebra mussel control in the United States. The applications of potash and EarthTec QZ were experimental off-label uses requiring special emergency permission.

Beginning in May, the DNR and MCWD will conduct searches along the shoreline and in the lake. They will place zebra mussel samplers at the Christmas Lake public boat access and at docks on the property of participating homeowners. Extensive in-lake monitoring will be required over a period of years to determine whether zebra mussels have been eliminated from the lake.

Boaters, anglers and lakeshore property owners are reminded of their vital role in the Minnesota partnership to prevent the spread of invasive species. Cleaning boats and trailers, draining boats and live wells, and disposing of unused bait, are the most effective strategies and are required by law. Property owners can help by following the legally required 21-day drying period before transporting dock material or related equipment to another lake.

Zebra mussels are an invasive species that can crowd out native mussels and compete for food sources with other aquatic animals such as larval fish. They attach to boat hulls and other water-related equipment, and can create a hazard for swimmers due to their sharp shells.

To learn more about aquatic invasive species, go to www.mndnr.gov/invasives/aquatic.   


December 2014 Christmas Lake


December 2014 
In an effort to eliminate any remaining zebra mussels from Christmas Lake in Shorewood, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has undertaken an experimental treatment that has been used only twice before in the U.S.

On Friday, Dec. 19, a contractor working with the DNR injected 1,000 pounds of potassium chloride under the ice near the public boat access on the northwest corner of Christmas Lake. The chemical – also referred to as potash – kills zebra mussels by interfering with their ability to breathe, but it does not affect fish.

Potash solution is injected into one of six holes drilled in Christmas Lake as part of an experimental effort to control zebra mussels.
Potash solution is injected into one of six holes drilled in Christmas Lake as part of an experimental effort to control zebra mussels.

The potash application is the third treatment at the lake, where a small number of zebra mussels were found in August as part of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District’s early detection monitoring program. Because the mussels were found early and were confined to a small area, DNR staff thought it feasible that treatment might eliminate them. The DNR and the district have subsequently treated the affected portion of the lake with Zequanox, a substance made up of dead bacteria, and later with a copper-based chemical.

“We’re trying all available options at Christmas Lake as the zebra mussel infestation was isolated to a small area of the lake,” said Keegan Lund, an invasive species specialist for the DNR. “Most importantly, we’re learning a lot about new treatment methods for zebra mussels that have not been used before in lakes.”

This treatment is only the third time that potash has been used for zebra mussel control in the United States. Because the chemical is not a federally registered pesticide, the DNR first needed to obtain authorization from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under an emergency exemption. Potash then needed to be registered as a pesticide with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency also reviewed the potash treatment plan and did not find immediate water quality concerns with the proposal.

If successful, the efforts at Christmas Lake could become the first time zebra mussels have been eradicated from a Minnesota water body, providing valuable information on treatment options when the invasive pests are discovered early.

A potash treatment may also be tried next spring on Lake Independence, where zebra mussels were found in October at the Baker Park Reserve boat launch. Both lakes will continue to be monitored to determine if the treatment s were successful.

Zebra mussels are an invasive species that can crowd out native mussels and compete for food sources with other aquatic animals such as larval fish. They attach to boat hulls and other water-related equipment and can create a hazard for swimmers due to their sharp shells.


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