OKLAHOMA CITY - Dreaded zebra mussels have been discovered in Lake Hefner. The species can cause big problems for boaters and possibly our water supply.

“They can cause problems to water intake structures,” said Debbie Regan with the City of Oklahoma City.

Zebra mussels are a highly invasive species and can spread quickly. One female zebra mussel can produce a million offspring in one year.

The zebra mussels pose no threat to the quality of the water, but as they congregate on water intake structures, they can drive up maintenance costs.

“If it’s a water supply lake like Lake Hefner there’s a potential the mussels could clog up pipes and basically cause more expense in trying to keep them out of the system,” explained Don. P. Brown, with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Zebra mussels are typically spread through trailered boats, and there are no lake wide treatment options to get rid of them.

“Once they’re in a body of water they’re going to be there,” said Brown.

Fortunately, City officials say they believe they caught the infestation early before they did any damage. But from here on out, they will have to keep a close eye on them.

“We’ll watch what they’re doing in the lake and rely on industry standards,” said Regan.

Wildlife officials say they are closely monitoring other city lakes for the zebra mussels and they are also asking boaters to inspect, clean and dry their boats to prevent spreading.

To deter the spread of zebra mussels, all boaters should:

  • Inspect boats, trailers and equipment for mussels or mud, plants, seeds or other organisms from the water and remove them.
  • Drain water from boats, motors, bilges, live wells, bait containers, coolers and ballasts.
  • Pressure-wash boats, trailers and equipment with hot water (140 degrees).
  • If unable to pressure-wash their boats and equipment, boaters should allow a thorough drying period -- at least five days -- before visiting a new body of water.

Among Oklahoma waters now infested with zebra mussels are Kerr Reservoir, Keystone Lake, Skiatook Lake, Oologah Lake, Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, Kaw Lake, Lake Eufaula, Sooner Lake and Lake Texoma.