Zebra mussels are a small, destructive invasive species that pose a danger to lake ecosystems, utilities and infrastructure. Boaters can unknowingly transport zebra mussels from lake to lake because the larvae are microscopic and easily transported in live wells or bilges without being seen.
Since 2017, zebra mussels have been discovered in the Highland Lakes: Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, Travis and Austin.
Zebra mussels were discovered in the Great Lakes in 1988. Since then, the mussels have spread to many parts of the United States. In addition to the Highland Lakes, reproducing populations of zebra mussels have been detected in Lake Brownwood, Medina Lake, O.H. Ivie Lake, Lake Pflugerville, Lake Georgetown, Lady Bird Lake, Lake Livingston, Canyon Lake, Lake Belton, Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir southwest of Belton, and at several lakes in North Texas.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department statements on zebra mussels discovered in Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, and Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake.
- Fact sheet on what the mussels mean for the Highland Lakes, LCRA customers, water quality and recreation.
- Fact sheet on how to build a zebra mussel sampler.
Once zebra mussels become established in a waterbody, little can be done to stop their spread. There is no known large-scale species-specific eradication method for zebra mussels.
Protect the lakes you love
Boaters must clean, drain and dry their boats to keep zebra mussels from spreading. It’s the law – with fines up to $500 for a first offense. State regulations require all boats operating on public freshwater anywhere in Texas to be drained after use to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species. This includes the Highland Lakes and lakes Bastrop and Fayette.
Inspect your boat, trailer and gear, and remove any zebra mussels, vegetation or foreign objects.
Drain all water from the boat, including from the engine, bilge, live wells and bait buckets, before leaving the lake.
Open all compartments and live wells, and allow the boat and trailer to sit completely dry for a week or more before entering another water body; or wash your boat, trailer and any gear that has been in the lake with a high-pressure washer and hot (at least 140-degree), soapy water.