Sonoma County Water Agency Funds Additional Boat Inspections for Summer 2015

The Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors today approved funding that will expand watercraft inspections at both Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino in an effort to prevent the spread of the invasive quagga and zebra mussels.  Currently, both reservoirs are mussel free and local officials are coordinating to ensure our waterways stay that way this summer and into the future.  The watercraft inspections will be conducted on the weekends by trained inspectors and mussel-sniffing dogs; the most popular known by locals is named Popeye.  This summer, Popeye will be joined by his sidekicks named Mobey and Nemo.  The mussel-sniffing dogs look forward to seeing you at the boat ramp – and we hope all watercraft owners will continue to be diligent with always cleaning, draining and drying their boats and equipment after going into any reservoir or waterway.  Be safe out there and help us not move a mussel!

Mussel Prevention Grant Available, Popeye Sniffs 300+ Boats

Dear Mussel Prevention Partners:

If you have not already heard, the Division of Boating and Waterways has released its mussel prevention grant application.  Learn more about the application process here.  The Sonoma County Water Agency is coordinating an application for mussel prevention inspections at both Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino.  It is our goal to apply and receive funding to help kick-off mandatory inspections by summer 2015; if not sooner.  Speaking of summer, it is almost over and that means Popeye was a busy dog!  Popeye, the mussel-sniffing dog, sniffed over 300 boats at Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma this summer.  No mussels were found. Read an article about Popeye and our prevention efforts here.

We thank you for your continued mussel prevention efforts.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,

Brad Sherwood
Community & Government Affairs Manager
Sonoma County Water Agency

Dreissenid Mussels Discovered in Lake Piru in Ventura County

Dear North Coast Mussel Prevention Partners:

I thought you would want to know that quagga mussels are once again on the move in Southern California.  This time they have infested a waterway in Ventura County.  This discovery marks the first time quagga or zebra mussels have been found in a Southern California waterbody that does not receive water from the Colorado River.  Please read below for more information.  Let’s keep working towards mussel-free waterways in 2014!


Brad Sherwood
Community & Governmental Affairs Manager
Sonoma County Water Agency

Contacts: Terri Stewart, CDFW South Coast Region, (858) 467-4209 Eloise Tavares, CDFW South Coast Region, (562) 342-7155 Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Dreissenid mussels (quagga or zebra) have been discovered in Lake Piru in Ventura County. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working with United Water Conservation District and Lake Piru Recreation Area staff to contain the infestation. All boaters are being required to clean, drain and dry their watercraft upon exit from the lake. This discovery marks the first time quagga or zebra mussels have been found in a Southern California waterbody that does not receive water from the Colorado River.

On Dec. 18, Lake Piru Recreation Area staff reported the discovery of potential quagga mussels to CDFW. The mussels were found attached to a Lake Piru patrol boat and several additional mussels were subsequently found on devices deployed in the lake for the purpose of detecting mussels and on the shoreline. CDFW staff tentatively identified the mussels, which range in size from one half to three quarter inches long, as quagga. Genetic testing is underway to confirm this identification. Lake Piru Recreation Area staff are working to determine the full extent of the infestation.

Lake Piru, which is managed by United Water Conservation District, is located downstream of Pyramid Lake. Lake Piru drains into Lower Piru Creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara River.

Quagga and zebra mussels, non-native freshwater mussels native to Eurasia, multiply quickly and encrust watercraft and infrastructure, and compete for food with native and sport fish species. These mussels can be spread from one body of water to another attached to nearly anything that has been in an infested waterbody, or via standing water from an infested waterbody entrapped in boat engines, bilges, live-wells and buckets. People who launch vessels at any body of water are subject to watercraft inspections and are encouraged to clean, drain and dry their motorized and non-motorized boats, including personal watercraft, and any equipment that comes into contact with the water before and after recreating at a waterway.

For more information on boat inspection programs and preventing the spread of quagga and zebra mussels visit CDFW’s website (

Quagga mussels were first detected in the Colorado River system in January 2007 and were later found in San Diego and Riverside counties. They are now known to be in 26 waters in California. Zebra mussels were discovered in San Justo Reservoir in San Benito County in January 2008.



Request for Proposals for Dreissenid Vessel Inspection Service Program

The Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) invites proposals from firms interested in providing services to implement the North Coast Zebra and Quagga Mussel Prevention Consortium’s Prevention Plan at Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino. View the RFP here.  In 2012 local government agencies throughout the North Coast of California created the Consortium. The Consortium developed and adopted the North Coast Zebra and Quagga Mussel Consortium Prevention Plan (“Prevention Plan”). The goal of the Prevention Plan was to develop a regional set of rules and standards for implementing vessel inspections at waterways and keep waterways mussel-free. Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino are currently mussel-free.

For more information, please contact Brad Sherwood at (707) 547-1927 or

Happy Holidays!

North Coast Mussel Prevention Update

Dear North Coast Mussel Prevention Friends:

The Boating and Waterways Commission will meet to review the proposed Emergency Regulations for the Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention Program on Monday, September 23 at 2 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 300 J Street, Sacramento CA 95814.

For the Agenda and Notice, click here or see the below link. The public is invited to attend.

Thank you for your ongoing work and support to keep quagga and zebra mussels out of our waterways!

The North Coast Mussel Prevention Consortium


Dear North Coast Invasive Mussel Prevention Partners:

We are excited to share with you the news that U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5) today announced that he founded the bipartisan Congressional Invasive Species Caucus. Read the press release here.  Thompson co-founded the caucus with Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI-1). The Caucus will serve to raise awareness about invasive species, support local communities who are bearing the brunt of this problem, and promote efforts to prevent and control the spread of invasive species. The Caucus will provide opportunities for Members of Congress to meet with other policy makers, organizations and industry leaders that are working to prevent the spread of invasive species.

“Invasive species pose a costly challenge to infrastructure, agriculture and the environment,” said Thompson. “By bringing together experts and industry leaders, we can come up with plans to protect our communities from invasive species before they become a major problem.” 

Invasive species threaten communities by devastating native habitat, damaging crops, clogging water pipes, infecting plants and animals with dangerous diseases, or outcompeting native species. These impacts can lower crop yields, pose health hazards, irreparably damage natural environments, and take a severe toll on local, state, and federal budgets.

Thompson recently co-authored bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1823, the Protecting Lakes Against Quagga Act, that would add quagga mussels to the national invasive species list. This listing gives federal agencies greater ability to prevent the spread of the invasive species.

In the 5th Congressional district, Clear Lake, Lake Sonoma, and Lake Berryessa are all rated at the highest possible risk for quagga invasion. Currently none of these lakes has been invaded by quagga mussels. However, if quaggas invade one of these lakes, control and treatment would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and impact the water supply for residents in Sonoma, Lake, and Solano Counties. If quagga mussels invade the state water infrastructure it could cost millions every year to keep the pipes clear.

The Congressional Invasive Species Caucus will work to develop plans to combat the spread of invasive species like the quaggas.


Popeye the mussel-sniffing dog was out at Lakes Mendocino and Sonoma July 6th and 7th and found no mussels.  Popeye inspected over 150 boats.  Listen to this KRCB media interview about our program with Popeye.  Popeye will be back out at the lakes August 3rd and 4th, and August 31st and September 1st.

Popeye the mussel-sniffing dog update

Dear North Coast Mussel Prevention Partners:

No mussels were found by Popeye over Memorial Day weekend.  Popeye was at Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino and inspected close to 100 watercraft.  Below is a link to a Ukiah Daily Journal article about the inspection results:Lake Mendocino inspections

View our YouTube video of Popeye sniffing for mussels:

Overall, we received very positive feedback from the boating community.  Everyone was very interested in learning more about the mussels and support a mandatory boat inspection program.  Several boaters had been to Lake Tahoe and had their boats inspected there.  We had one boat come through with a band from Santa Clara County.  That boater was hoping a similar banding program would take place in our region.

We will keep you updated on this program’s progress as we move forward.  Popeye will be back out the weekend after the 4th of July.  We are re-stocking sporting good shelves with our brochures and handouts as part of our ongoing educational campaign. Many thanks for your ongoing work and support for this program.

Thank you!

Brad Sherwood
Community & Governmental Affairs Manager
Sonoma County Water Agency


North Coast Mussel Prevention Consortium: Federal Legislative Update, Support Needed for HR 1823

Dear North Coast Mussel Prevention Partners and Friends:

An important piece of federal legislation (HR 1823) has been introduced that would amend the Lacey Act to include quagga mussels.  Below is a fact sheet of HR 1823.  Congressman Mike Thompson is co-sponsoring this legislation; we greatly appreciate his continued support on this issue.  We ask that you please send letters of support on HR 1823 to Congressman Thompson and Congressman Heck (Nevada, introduced the bill).

HR 1823Fact Sheet
The Impact of Dreissenid Mussels


HR 1823: Congressman Heck & Amodei of Nevada introduced bill HR1823 on April 30, 2013.

This bill would add the “genus Dreissena” under the Lacey Act as an injurious species.  Currently, zebra mussels are the only species of Dreissena listed as injurious under the Lacey Act. By adding genus Dreissena both quagga and zebra mussels would be listed. Under the Lacey Act, the importation or shipment of an “injurious wildlife” species is prohibited and subject to civil and criminal penalties.

These species could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year and close down access to state waters for recreation and commercial opportunities. Mussels can clog water intake pipes and filters, reducing water pumping capabilities for power and water treatment plants. Once established, these mussels will change ecosystems and food sources critical to native mussels and species such as salmon and trout.  Currently, there is no proven way to eradicate the mussels from a water body once they are established.

  • Dreissenid mussels are freshwater mollusks introduced into the Great Lakes in 1986 via ships’ ballast water.  Quagga and zebra mussels spread quickly throughout the Great Lakes and were moved to the west to Lake Mead on boats.
  • After they were discovered in Lake Mead in 2007, quagga mussels quickly spread to connected lower Colorado River basin lakes and reservoirs in Arizona and southern California.  They have also turned up in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
  •  Quagga mussels can spread to other inland waters either in their immature form transported in water carried in livewells, bilge, and motors, or as adults attached to boat hulls, engines, aquatic weeds, lines, anchors and other surfaces.
  • Mussels have proven that they in fact can move across dry land and infest water bodies that are separated by hundreds of miles.


  •  Quagga and zebra mussels have cost more in prevention and control than any other aquatic species to invade the United States, costing an estimated $5 billion in prevention and control efforts since their arrival to the Great Lakes in the late 1980s.
  • Mussels are filter feeders. They take water out, remove the food items, and then pump out water and waste. They compete directly with the food sources for both native and game fish, and can change the food web in a lake. They also take in lots of pollutants (at levels higher than the surrounding area, referred to as as bio-accumulation), which can harm other wildlife that eat them.
  • Mussels can multiply at an alarming rate. A single female quagga can produce more than one million eggs in a spawning season.
  • The threat and/or presence of mussels is causing people to change the way we have come to use water. Water users are having to pay more for maintenance of water delivery systems; boaters are being asked to have their vessels inspected before launching; and some water bodies now restrict boating hours to insure that boats are inspected prior to launching.

For more information about the mussels, please go to



Send letters via e-mail to:
Congressman Thompson’s Office: Dan Sousa,
Congressman Heck’s Office:  Krist1n Maxwell,

Dear Congressman Heck (Congressman Thompson) :

The (insert agency name) supports the passage of HR 1823 (The Preventing Lakes Against Quaggas Act) and thanks you for introducing this important piece of legislation.  This legislation would add the quagga mussel to the list of injurious species under the Lacey Act to give federal agencies more authority to address the interstate transport of infested articles.  Currently, the equally destructive invasive zebra mussel is listed under the Act.

The (insert agency name), along with a coalition of other local government agencies along the North Coast of California, have joined together to begin a regional invasive mussel prevention program.  We realize that quagga and zebra mussels pose a serious threat to not only critical water supply and flood control facilities, but also to the regional effort to restore the endangered coho salmon within the Russian River watershed.  If either mussel were to be introduced into Lake Sonoma, our regional coho restoration program could be shuttered.

HR 1823 fills a hole that currently exists with the omission of quagga mussels in the Lacey Act.  The federal government should treat interstate transportation and penalties for both the zebra and quagga mussel equally.  We appreciate your continued support for our regional mussel prevention efforts.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions.



Cc: North Coast Mussel Prevention Consortium


If you have any questions, please let me know.

Thank you,

Brad Sherwood
Community & Governmental Affairs Manager
Sonoma County Water Agency
(707) 547-1927