Fighting quaggas a tough task on Independence Day weekend

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Independence Day is America’s biggest boating holiday, which just raises the stakes for Utah’s Wildlife officers charged with keeping quagga mussels from spreading to more Utah lakes.

Wildlife technicians and enforcement officers staff checkpoints at ports of entry and at major reservoirs.

In Heber, Aquatic Invasive Species Technician Daniel Oler was trying to keep boats from going directly from Deer Creek Reservoir to Strawberry Reservoir. Deer Creek is listed as “suspected” because quagga precursors called “veligers” have been found there.

Oler said his job is to save taxpayers the money it would cost to keep water systems running if a Quagga infestation took hold.

“Mussels love to hide, and they build their little colonies inside pipes," Oler said. "It doesn't take very long for them to fill even a very large diameter pipe, and then that obviously stops the water from flowing to you and me."

The mussels are referred to as the "STD of the Sea." Click here for more about prevention efforts.