Boat-washing sites planned to combat zebra mussels

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Times staff report

Boaters out on Minnesota lakes this weekend could encounter new boat-washing stations and inspectors designed to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species.

The state Department of Natural Resources purchased the portable decontamination units with funding provided by the Legislature to combat invasive species. The units are capable of spraying 160-degree water at high pressure to remove zebra mussels from boat hulls, livewells and other areas that can harbor invasive species.

The DNR plans to have the units along with trained staff at public accesses on high-traffic lakes that are infested with zebra mussels, such as Mille Lacs, Minnetonka and Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County. Only boats that don’t pass an inspection will need to be decontaminated with the new equipment.

The DNR plans to increase the number of decontamination units from three to a fleet of 20 or more by next summer.

The agency encourages boaters to follow a few steps before leaving an access to ease the process:

» Leave a little extra time for the inspection.

» Remove visible aquatic plants and zebra mussels from boats and trailers.

» Drain water from your boat, livewell, bilge and impellor by removing drain plugs and opening water-draining devices. Also drain portable bait containers.