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Invasive Zebra Mussels Found In Another Texas Lake

NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - A pesky problem is spreading into more Texas lakes. Invasive zebra mussels first showed up in 2009 at Lake Texoma.

Now, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department confirm zebra mussels have spread to Belton Lake, about 130 miles south of Fort Worth. The species is also suspected of living in two additional North Texas lakes – Joe Pool and Lake Worth.

While no actual muscles have been found in either lake, just the fact chemical traces of them have been captured have some worrying.

"That's going to be a problem," said Susan Hurst, as she sat chatting with members of the Lake Worth Sailing Club. "I hope it's not that involved.  I hope we're catching something early so it can be resolved."

Tests found what Texas Parks and Wildlife call a 'weak' DNA sample.  That means they have not found actual mussels in the lake. The DNA picked up in water samples may have been traces of the mussels brought in on a boat from another lake. The genetic material could also be there because there may be a small cluster of mussels in the water.  No one is sure.

A Parks and Wildlife release stated:

"...the fact that the presence of zebra mussels could not be confirmed by other methods means that these two lakes should be considered 'suspect' until further testing."

To even have the lake as 'suspect' for harboring zebra mussels causes uneasiness around the waterways.

The mussels reproduce rapidly and are notorious for the damage they cause.

Boats kept in the water could have problems with mussels on the hulls and in the bilges.

But the biggest worry is for the intakes that pump water for the area's water supply.

Mussels growing in the pipes can cost millions of dollars to clean and repair.

"We do continue to do the monitoring," said Fort Worth Water Department spokesperson Hilda Zuniga. "And we do pay close attention to the intakes at the lake just to make sure that there's nothing there.  And at this point we can say there's nothing there."

Click here to find out more about zebra mussels from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

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