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Invasive Mussels Could Contaminate SoCal Water Supply

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Authorities have found hundreds of tiny invasive mussels in the aqueduct that brings water to San Diego and millions of Southern Californians. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce says water officials have plans to control the pest before it endangers the water supply.

Crews inspecting the aqueduct that brings Colorado River water to Southern California have found almost 800 quagga mussels, which are native to Ukraine. Bob Muir is with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Muir : Although they have infested the aqueduct system, we believe we have a very good chance at controlling them.

Muir says the mussels were found scattered throughout the system. He says the district will manage the thumbnail-sized mollusks so they don't clog the pipes that carry water to millions of users.

Muir : It's about controlling the spread of this mussel -- keeping their numbers down so you don't have impacts to your delivery system that brings water in from the Colorado River.

Muir says copper sulfate and chlorine will be used to control the invasive species. The mussels have created a billion-dollar problem in the Great Lakes area by clogging water pipelines and altering ecosystems. Muir says the mussels are still more sparsely distributed here than in the Great Lakes region.  Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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