PHOENIX -- Arizona Game and Fish says conclusive evidence of quagga mussels has been discovered at the Tonto National Forest at Canyon, Saguaro and Apache lakes.
Because of the discovery, the agency will list these lakes as AIS(Aquatic Invasive Species)-affected waters, effective May 1.
Officials say that while there is not an infestation of quaggas at Apache, Saguaro or Canyon, there is "genetic and visual evidence in all those waters of the invasive quaggas that colonize rapidly on hard surfaces and can ruin recreational watercraft motors, alter water quality for aquatic wildlife and clog water intake structures such as pipes and screens, thereby impacting pumping capabilities for power and water treatment plants."
According to a news release from Arizona Game and Fish, eight of the 12 major reservoirs in Arizona -- Powell, Mead, Mojave, Havasu, Apache, Canyon, Saguaro and Pleasant -- are listed as quagga-affected waters. The other major reservoirs – Roosevelt, Bartlett, Alamo and Horseshoe – are not impacted by quagga mussels, but require AZGFD’s increased protection.
“By law, boaters and anglers must pull their drainage plugs before transporting a watercraft from these listed waters,” said Tom McMahon, AZGFD aquatic invasive species program coordinator, “but it makes sense to simply pull their drainage plugs, and leave them out, anytime they are transporting watercraft in and through Arizona.”
In addition, the agency advises, "inspect your boat and ensure it is completely dried before launching into any state waters. This is where the need to 'Clean, Drain and Dry' is vital."
Under Arizona law, boaters and all recreationists who take watercraft and other equipment out of waters designated as having aquatic invasive species must use the following steps when leaving that listed water:
• CLEAN. Clean/remove any clinging material such as plants, animals and mud from the anchor, boat, motor, hull, trailer, etc.
• DRAIN. Remove all water drainage plugs (and keep them out during transport). Drain the water from the bilge, live-well and any other compartments that could hold water. Drain the water from the engine and engine cooling system(s). You can do this by lowering the outboard, while on the ramp, until the water is removed.
• DRY. Ensure the watercraft, vehicle, equipment, or conveyance is allowed to dry completely before placing in water in Arizona. Leaving your plugs out during transport will assist in ventilating and speeding the drying time of those difficult-to-dry areas of your boat.