Water News

    Boats Must be Decontaminated Before Leaving Utah’s Lake Powell

    If your Easter weekend plans include boating on Lake Powell, you’ll have to decontaminate your boat before you leave the lake. 

    An order requiring you to decontaminate your boat was signed recently by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Director Greg Sheehan. 

    The recent discovery of 14 adult mussels at Lake Powell prompted the order.  Utah wildlife and state park officials say the order should lessen the chance that mussels are transported from Lake Powell to other bodies of water in Utah.

    “We’re doing everything we can to keep quagga and zebra mussels out of Utah,” says Larry Dalton, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.  “If mussels ever establish themselves here, they could do millions of dollars in damage to water delivery systems.  They could also affect the state’s recreation areas and fishing, and damage boats.”

    Dalton says you can decontaminate your boat on your own, or you can have it professionally decontaminated.  Whichever way you choose, make sure you complete a decontamination certification form.  The form is available atwww.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/invasive-mussels/454-formoptions.html.

    You must display the form in your launch vehicle before launching your boat on any water in Utah.

    Instructions on how to decontaminate your boat are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/decontaminate.html.

    Dalton says the decontamination order isn’t just for this weekend.  “The order will stay in place as long as there are mussels in Lake Powell,” he says.

    Clean, drain and dry 

    Quagga and zebra mussels move from water to water by attaching themselves to boats and other equipment that comes in contact with the water.

    Cleaning, draining and drying your boat and any recreational equipment that comes in contact with the water is the key to eliminating the mussels.  “You can do this yourself,” Dalton says, “and it won’t cost you a thing.”  

    Follow these three steps to clean, drain and dry your boat:

    (1) Remove all of the plants, mud or animals (attached mussels or fish) from your boat’s exterior and interior by wiping the exterior and interior clean. 

    (2) Drain all the water from places in your boat where it may have accumulated.  This includes the ballast tanks, the bilge, live wells and the motor.  Even coolers that contain water from the lake should be drained.

    The first two steps should be done immediately after pulling your boat out of the water and up the launch ramp.  “Doing these steps should become as routine as securing your boat to its trailer,” Dalton says.  “Make sure you do them every time.”

    (3) Finally, dry your boat and all the equipment that got wet (water toys, anchor or tie ropes and the anchor chest) at home or where you store it for the following length of time: 

    Months                                                            Dry time

    March, April and May                                    18 days

    June, July and August                                   7 days 

    September, October and November          18 days 

    December, January and February              30 days 

    Temperatures that drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for three straight days will also kill the mussels.

    If you want to get your boat on the water before the drying times allow, you’ll have to get it professionally decontaminated.  “Decontamination equipment is available at most of Utah’s popular boating waters,” Dalton says, “and the service is typically free.” 

    When you get your boat decontaminated, a certified operator will wash it inside and out with scalding hot water (140 degrees Fahrenheit).  He or she will also use the same hot water to flush the raw water circulation systems on your boat.

    You can learn where decontamination units are located by calling a regional DWR aquatic invasive species biologist.  You can find their telephone numbers at http://go.usa.gov/RfK.


    The clean, drain and dry steps are also available in a video at the DWR’s YouTube site — www.youtube.com/UDWR.

    Once you arrive at www.youtube.com/UDWR, scroll through the video choices until you find the video titled “Stop the spread of invasive mussels from Sand Hollow—clean, drain and dry your boat.”

    Image courtesy Utah DNR

    Share This Article