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Zebra Mussels Start Crowding In On Lawrence

The zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), introduced from Russia via shipping canals to non-native areas in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries and later to North America.

Kansas City, MO – A water treatment plant on the Kaw in Lawrence reports finding zebra mussels starting to clog an intake pipe. And plant officials are pondering how often they may have to clean the molluscs out. Tim Banek of the Missouri Department of Conservation explains how prolific the Eurasian species is. He tells of a test conducted by putting plastic signs under water in a Missouri lake.

Banek: "We put it in there in April, took it out in November. It was highly covered with zebra mussels that were about a half-inch long - 18 mussels per square inch in an eight month period of time."

Banek says in Missouri the zebra mussels spread downstream, which would mean they are due in the Kansas City area in a year of two. His main concern is the continued spread of the species in Missouri and Kansas lakes, where they deplete the food supply for game fish like bass and seriously disrupt the ecology.

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