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Posted 6/30/2016

Release no. 20160630-003

Eileen Williamson


Angel Pletka

OMAHA, NE - A recent water sample taken from Lake Zorinsky has tested positive for veligers, the microscopic larval form of zebra mussels. Additional water samples continue to be analyzed and shoreline surveys are being conducted.

There are no current indications that the zebra mussels are a threat to the dam’s infrastructure.

At this time, there are no plans to lower Lake Zorinsky or use any chemicals to treat the lake for zebra mussels.

Zebra mussels do occur in Nebraska and there are reproducing populations in the following waterbodies: Offutt Air Force Base Lake (in Bellevue, NE), Lewis and Clark Lake (near Yankton, SD) and the Missouri River downstream of Lewis and Clark Lake (down to Blair, NE).

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission monitors all of Nebraska’s waterbodies for invasive zebra and quagga mussels using plankton net tows once water temperatures are high enough for zebra mussel reproduction (above 56 degrees F).  Lake Zorinsky is sampled bimonthly because it previously had a zebra mussel infestation.

Through collaborations with local agencies such as Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the Nebraska Invasive Species Program, Omaha Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, new signs indicating that Lake Zorinsky is designated “suspect” for zebra mussels will be posted in the coming days.

“A suspect lake means an established breeding population is not yet confirmed,” said Angel Pletka, a natural resource specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District.

“We want to make sure that boaters, paddlers, anglers and other recreationalists are aware of the increased concern and Clean, Drain, Dry to help prevent spreading invasive species to other area lakes,” said Pletka.

“Larval and adult zebra mussels can spread between waters and can survive up to 3 weeks out of water with the right conditions,” said Allison Zach with the Nebraska Invasive Species Program.

“Nebraska law requires that no lake water be transported between waterbodies,” said Dave Tunink with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Harvest fish need to be transported on ice in a cooler and baitfish need to be disposed of properly in the trash or water drained off and placed in a plastic bag and frozen for later use.  It is illegal to dump baitfish buckets into any water body.”

The Nebraska Invasive Species Program will have a technician at Lake Zorinsky Friday and Saturday to conduct boater surveys and answer any questions the public may have.

To avoid the spread of invasive species such as zebra mussels, the public is reminded to:

  • CLEAN Remove visible plants, animals and debris at boat launch.  After leaving the waterbody clean boat using hot water.
  • DRAIN water from engine and live wells before leave area by pulling plugs and exercising outboard motors up and down to aid in the process.  After leaving the waterbody flush live wells, engine and rinse boat with clean water.
  • DRY your watercraft and gear for at least 5 days before launching in a different waterbody. If you can’t wait 5 days following the steps above and use towels to dry the watercraft and equipment. Regular vinegar can be used to kill zebra mussels in live wells and engine compartments if soaked for 20 minutes. Vinegar can be used several times for this purpose.

To learn more or to report a sighting visit: www.neinvasives.com    

Points of contacts for agencies involved are:

Zorinsky Park Operations:

Fisheries, Nebraska Boating & Aquatic Invasive Species laws:

  • Dave Tunink
  • Assistant Administrator
  • Fisheries Management Section
  • Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
  • Phone: (402) 471-5553

Zebra Mussels and other Invasive Species:

  • Alison Zach
  • Nebraska Invasive Species Program Coordinator
  • 402-472-3133

Lake Zorinsky Dam and Reservoir Levels