Regulations to stop zebra mussels goes statewide in Texas

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TEXAS -- Starting Tuesday boaters in Texas will face more regulations aimed to stop the spread of zebra mussels.

Zebra mussels were first confirmed in Texas at Lake Texoma in 2009 and the aquatic pests have since spread to North and Central Texas. Park officials say the regulations that launch for every river and lake statewide are simple rules that are already in place at Lake Texoma.

Zebra mussels are an invasive species that can clog pipes and damage boats. They caused trouble for Sherman resident Ralph Fausto when he lived in Ohio.

"Every time you went fishing they would just clog your anchor and clog your intake system," Fausto said.

Fausto adds the pests are not easy to get rid of.

"If you leave your boat in the water they'll be all over the bottom. They just cling to everything," Fausto said.

Eisenhower State Park Superintendent Paul Kisel says that is why existing regulations at Lake Texoma are being expanded statewide. The new rules require all boaters in Texas to clean and drain their vessels and on-board receptacles before entering and after leaving any lake or river.

"What we'll ask you to do is clean, drain and dry your boat. In other words clean it. You can go to a carwash and spray any remaining off of it. Dry it, put it out in the hot Texas sunshine because zebra mussels don't like Texas sunshine," Kisel said.

Kisel adds those are easy steps any boater should want to follow anyway and Fausto agrees.

"Great idea, great idea because it's not hard to transfer them from one lake to another," Fausto said.

"The boaters are responsible for taking care of their boats, but everyone should be responsible for taking care of the ecosystem," Kisel said.

Kisel says any boater not following the new regulations could face up to a $500 dollar fine.