Zebra mussels invade Indy 

Retrieval of zebra mussel-encrusted Vector Averaging Current Meter near Michigan City, IN. Lake Michigan, June 1999.
  • Photo by M. McCormick, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Retrieval of zebra mussel-encrusted Vector Averaging Current Meter near Michigan City, IN. Lake Michigan, June 1999.

If I owned a waterfront property on Geist Reservoir, I'd be worrying about property values right now.

Or at least strapping on my flip-flops.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced yesterday that the presence of the dreaded Zebra mussel had been detected at Geist — which could spell big trouble for residents and for the city of Indianapolis:

"Zebra mussels can rapidly multiply and are known for clogging drainage and filtration pipes," [said Doug Keller, aquatic invasive species coordinator with the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife]. "Besides pipes, they can attach to virtually anything in the water column, including rocks, limbs, piers or even boats."

Geist is one of three water supply reservoirs for the Indianapolis area. Keller said that as zebra mussel numbers increase in Geist and downstream in Fall Creek, there could be negative impacts to the water utility's withdraw capacity.

The economic costs of the little buggers are hard to pin town. But, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), millions of dollars are spent each year just to clean intake structures clogged by the mussels.

But the bad news doesn't end there: the Zebra mussels also compete with (and, ultimately, strangle) other species for precious plankton. And their shells can be razor sharp — a problem for barefoot swimming.

Believe it or not, this is the first time the Zebra Mussel has been found in the Indianapolis area. The closest sitings, until now, were at the Phillips Quarry in east-central Muncie, in Delaware County, according to a real-time map provided by the USGS.

And though the Muncie quarry lies within the upper White River drainage area, to date, no signs of the mussel have been detected anywhere along the White River. The Wabash, Ohio and St. Joseph Rivers, by contrast, are teeming with established colonies.

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