Invasion of the Zebra Mussels

by Richard San Giacomo, Pres.; R&D Engrg., Buffalo, NY,
Nicholas G. Randell, Tech. Writer; R&D Engrg., Buffalo, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 5, Pg. 56-58

Document Type: Feature article


At first glance, the zebra mussel looked like doom for freshwater users in the Great Lakes: small, hardy, incredibly prolific European mollusks with an affection for freshwater intakes and the ability to slip through microscopic filters as larvae and attach themselves almost anywhere. But despite the fact that up to two-thirds of the country's freshwater bodies could be infested by the bivalves, conrol technologies currently available can do something about it. From chemical treatments with chlorine and potassium permanganate, to thermal backwashing to polyethylene pigs that can be squeezed through a pipe to clean it free of the mussels, each method of control has its advantages and disadvantages. Users have to consider which method, or combination of methods, is right for them. But, with careful attention and application, combined with intake designs adopted from European users, freshwater operators can reduce the mussel from a bivalved catastrophe to merely a part of the job.

Subject Headings: Fresh water | Water intakes | Chemical treatment | Lakes | Filters | Chlorine | Chemical elements | Water treatment | Great Lakes

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