Lawrence finds zebra mussels in water transmission line
Lawrence city officials have approved buying special equipment to combat zebra mussels after a nearly 2-inch thick layer of the invasive species was found lining a main that carries water from Clinton Lake to a water treatment plant.
City utility workers inspecting the pipe found the coating of mussels that stretched nearly 2,000 feet, said Philip Ciesielski, assistant director of utilities. He said if the mussels are left unchecked they would continue to grow and eventually choke off pipes and intake openings, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/2p5Q7lh ).
"They have no natural predators in our ecosystems and they colonize extremely rapidly," Ciesielski said. "And what they do is, once they get on the inside of that pipe, if they were allowed to continue to colonize they would slowly just build on top of themselves and reduce the diameter of that pipe."
At their meeting this week, city commissioners agreed to spend about $80,000 of the copper ion generation equipment. It will put low doses of copper ions in the lake water, which will eventually kill the mussels and their larvae, Ciesielski said.
The Environmental Protection Agency requires the city to monitor the level of copper in drinking water. Ciesielski said neither the copper nor the mussels affect the safety or quality of local drinking water. He said the city’s water treatment process controls for copper, and kills any mussels or larvae that may make it to the water treatment plant.
"For us they are more of a maintenance and an operation headache from physically trying to get the water up to the plant," Ciesielski said.
Zebra mussels were discovered in the Kansas River in 2009 and in Clinton Lake in 2013. The mussels can encrust water intake valves, the inside of pipes, as well as docks, ramps or boats.
The transmission main, which is 3 feet wide and nearly 2 miles long, was clear of mussels when it was been checked in 2014.
Commissioner Lisa Larsen said the city has had some cost savings through the year that will allow it to cover the copper ion generation equipment.