There are no quagga or zebra mussels in Saskatchewan yet, but it might only be a matter of time before they arrive to wreak havoc.
That was the worry expressed at city council last week, as council received correspondence from the North Saskatchewan River Basin Council regarding the city’s renewal of their annual membership in the organization.
Among the activities of the River Basin Council has been creating awareness of aquatic invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels, and the damage those could inflict on the province’s lakes if it is introduced to the province.
Mayor Ryan Bater pointed out that the zebra mussels are a “very big problem in Manitoba right now.”
“They are also a very big problem in a number of other instances,” said director of utilities Stewart Schafer.
Schafer had a grim outlook about what the implications would be to the city if the mussels arrived in the province – and in particular, their river.
“The North Saskatchewan are very high risk areas, and they are expecting we will see them in the future,” said Schafer.
“I’m hoping not, because it will be devastating on our one water treatment plant.”
“The intake,” Bater added, referring to the North Saskatchewan River intake to F.E. Holliday water treatment plant. River intakes and other drains and pipes are particular targets of quagga and zebra mussels, as the species are known to clog those up and cause massive cleanup and other infrastructure costs.
To this point, quagga and zebra mussels have been found in eastern Canada and much of the USA, though the northwest region has been largely spared up to now.
Keeping invasive species out of Saskatchewan waters has been a focus in recent years of provincial campaigns, as officials have tried to get the message out to boaters to “clean-drain-dry” boats before taking them to the lakes.
The campaign is particularly aimed at those bringing watercraft in from other jurisdictions that already have issues from quagga and zebra mussels.