By John Gibbons
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY — Sens. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, and Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, have been working on the problem of Quagga mussels in Utah during their legislative off-session.
So far, the pair have convinced the Senate to endorse a plan to curtail the spread of the mussels. It pass that body 27-0 and now moves on to consideration by the House.
Jenkins, who is the sponsor of SB89, hopes to make $700,000 available to the Utah Division of Natural Resources to prevent Quagga mussels from spreading much further. As of now it has been spotted in Deer Creek Reservoir, a staple fishery for many Utah residents.
But what would the DNR do with the $700,000?
“Do you know how long it takes to clean and decontaminate a boat? It takes forty-five minutes normally, but now there are “ballasts” that make it even harder to clean out and protect from [Quagga mussels], they will use that to develop a preventative program,” Jenkins said.
But $700,000 is very little money for a preventative measure. Now, other states are spending billions of dollars to eliminate the entrenched effects of a full-blown Quagga mussel invasion.
“They take the zooplankton out of the water completely, and the fish can’t live there,” Jenkins said. “Right now there are only ‘villagers’ in Deer Creek, but if they become established, we’ll have them in Provo River, and if they get to Utah Lake then we have a many billion dollar project to clean this up.”