Rutland Water visitors asked to be alert as invasive quagga mussels spotted
The Environment Agency has asked visitors to Rutland Water to help limit the spread of quagga mussels.
The invasive molluscs are not native to this country, but have recently been found at Rutland Water and in the River Trent, near Newton-on-Trent, in Lincolnshire.
People using the river or reservoir are being urged to follow “check, clean, dry” procedures to try and prevent the spread.
Quagga mussels do not pose a threat to water quality, animals or people, but do spread rapidly and can block pipes and water-based assets, leading to big maintenance costs.
They originate from an area around the Black and Caspian seas, and are believed to have spread across Europe from the Ukraine as new canals opened.
The species was discovered at Rutland Water in October by an invasive species specialist undertaking surveys on Anglian Water’s reservoirs.
Anglian Water, which manages the reservoir, is investigating the impact on the reservoir and working with the Environment Agency to see whether the mussels are in water courses connected to Rutland Water.
But they emphasised that water from the reservoir is treated to a very high standard before it is supplied to homes.
"Quagga mussels impact reservoir ecology by filtering plankton from large volumes of water," said Chris Gerrard, Anglian Water’s catchment and biodiversity manager.
"They also impact our assets by growing in our intake pipes.
“It is important that all staff and users of Rutland Water, particularly anglers and those putting boats onto or taking boats off the water, adhere to the check, clean, dry biosecurity measures that are advised on site.
“They should ensure their equipment is thoroughly cleaned and dried before it is put into any other lake or river.
"Washdown points are already in place at the Fishing Lodge to help make this easier.”
The Environment Agency is working with Anglian Water and the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat to agree their bio-security response, and has stepped up monitoring of the region’s rivers to establish the scale of the problem.
The mussels were first recorded in the UK in 2014 and have previously been found in the Thames catchment. It is not known how they arrived in the Trent or Rutland Water.
Geoff Craig, area environment manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Unfortunately, further spread of the quagga mussels is highly likely, but we can slow down the spread.
"We urge all water-users in the affected areas to follow the required biosecurity procedures of ‘check, clean, dry’ whenever working or engaging in leisure activities in or near the water."