A volunteer with Texas Mussel Watch found a small mussel attached to the shell of a giant floater on September 18. A follow-up survey determined that zebra mussels are prevalent in the lake and were likely introduced to the reservoir some time in 2012.

An emergency order was signed Wednesday in response to the finding. The order covers Lake Belton, Stillhouse Hollow Lake and portions of the Leon and Lampasas Rivers. Under that order, boaters will be required to drain boats and gear or be found in violation of rules prohibiting the possession of zebra mussels. Because zebra mussel larvae are not visible under normal circumstances, officials say it is imperative that boaters drain, clean and dry their boats and gear before entering other bodies of water in order to prevent the spread of the mussels.

There are currently no methods of eradicating zebra mussels. The invasive species is known to clog water intake pipes, jam water cooling systems and pose a hazard to swimmers with their sharp edges. Zebra mussels have been a huge problem in the Great Lakes area and were found to have been introduced to Texas in 2009 when they were found in Lake Texoma.

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