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Water Officials Have Big Worries About Tiny Shellfish

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Aired 4/19/09

San Diego County water officials met today to plan ways to control the spread of a tiny shellfish before it clogs waterlines and ruins water quality. The pesky creature has spread into county reservoirs and lakes. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce has more on the quagga mussel.

The mussel has been found in the Lower Otay Reservoir and three lakes in San Diego County. The aquatic pest clogs water intake pipes and screens. That can interfere with the delivery of water and affect pumping capabilities for power and water treatment plants.

Gary Eaton is operations manager at the San Diego County Water Authority . He says the mussel also threatens water quality.

Eaton : They actually filter the water very efficiently but in doing that they allow sunlight to get down a little bit deeper and that spurs additional growth. And when that occurs we can get taste and odor problems.

He says officials are working to control the mussel. One part of the effort includes boat inspections to keep the mussel from spreading. Officials are worried the quagga could significantly affect endangered fish and limited water supplies in the Southwest U.S.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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