Invasive Quagga Mussel Could Pose Huge Risk to Drinking Water, Power and Manufacturing Industries along Snake and Columbia River Systems

September 22, 2023

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) announced on Sept. 19, 2023, that larva of the quagga mussel have been detected in the Snake River, a tributary of the Columbia River.

The quagga mussels and their close relative, the zebra mussel, impact hydropower, manufacturing, irrigation, and other water-based infrastructure by attaching to the inside of pipes and clogging the systems, a process called macrofouling. These invasive mussels cause almost immediate and widespread destruction in a watershed once introduced ( 

Quagga mussels can spread via boats and barges or by simply floating downriver.

Per, 2022 sampling found no invasive quagga or zebra mussels in Washington’s waters including the Snake River and preliminary results from 2023 confirm no presence, yet. But, each mussel can produce up to 1 million offspring per year (Arizona Fish and Game Department) and reach maturity within the first year of life (Oregon State University). Also, per, “ISDA is initiating a rapid response plan that includes notifying impacted entities, implementing containment measures, conducting delimiting surveys, and evaluating potential treatment options. They have established a web page for their incident response.”

Furthermore, “If invasive mussels take hold in Washington, officials estimate it would cost more than $100 million each year to keep Washington’s power and water infrastructure running, in addition to causing ecological damage.” 

Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) ecologist and macrofouling expert Cameron Lange has conducted monitoring and/or control plans on invasive mussels on more than 100 projects over the past 35 years across the United States.

Cam has given more than 50 scientific presentations, written four book chapters, and published five papers on macrofouling. He has been working on the zebra mussel issue since the year it was identified in North America. His expertise includes Research & Development Studies monitoring, infrastructure system vulnerability analyses, development of site-specific controls, and determining the efficacy of established controls. He has conducted projects for small and large drinking water facilities, including those in the cities of New York, Baltimore, and Dallas; hydroelectric, nuclear, and fossil power generators; and many types of manufacturing facilities.

Cam and CEC’s team of more than 120 ecologists and engineers are here and ready to assist in any monitoring or control measures you would like to discuss.

Reach Cam at or 716.930.6080.

About the Author

CEC Staff

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) provides comprehensive market-oriented consulting services to advance client strategic business objectives. CEC is recognized for delivering innovative design solutions and integrated expertise in air quality, civil engineering, ecological sciences, environmental engineering and sciences, manufacturing infrastructure services, survey/geospatial, waste management, and water resources.

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