Officials Release Initial Impacts of Zebra Mussels on Lake Minnetonka

April 21, 2016 02:48 PM

On Thursday, we learned more about the impact invasive zebra mussels are having on the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District has been monitoring the population of the invasive species since they were first detected on the lake in 2010.

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Officials found zebra mussels are causing significant changes to the water quality of Lake Minnetonka.

With more zebra mussels, the study found there's a decrease in algae and an increase in water clarity. Additionally, they're reducing the food source for a lot of different organisms.

"You think of a food web, you start eliminating some of the base of the food web, it's going to start affecting organisms all the way up to fish, so it certainly could change fish communities in the lake," Eric Fieldseth with the MCWD AIS program said.

Officials say these aquatic invasive species prefer bays with moderate levels of algae. For instance, Wayzata Bay had an estimated 200,000 zebra mussels per square meter in 2014.

The watercraft inspection program remains in place to encourage boaters to get checks to prevent the spread of these species, but now that the watershed district has this data, they're finding it easier to manage this problem.

"Hopefully, long term, the future is bright. We're starting to understand what the actual impacts of zebra mussels are. It may vary in different water bodies, so I think with all of that, we're really starting to move along in our knowledge base," Fieldseth said. 

Officials say they plan to increase the number of sites on Lake Minnetonka where they're monitoring this problem.


Brett Hoffland

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