Contest seeking innovative solutions to eradicate invasive zebra, quagga mussels

Zebra mussels, like these, and quagga mussels are two of the most disruptive invasive species in our waters. (Photo by Mike Schoonveld)

I recently wrote and reported on the giveaway of Michigan tax dollars to scientists, deep-thinkers and/or used car salesmen who could envision the best method of keeping those pesky Asian carp (now endemic in much of the Mississippi River watershed) from infiltrating the Great Lakes watershed.

I’m not poo-pooing the extent of environmental damage the exotic carp could or would cause if they spread into the Great Lakes. I’m sadly chuckling since the solution to the problem is very evident – fill the canal with dirt. But rather than sucking up and solving it, the government (and its resources) are spending countless millions (including hosting a carp barrier contest) to come up with an alternate, politically correct and probably even more-costly program that may or may not work.

Now comes another government-funded anti-invasive species contest. In this one, the Federal Bureau of Reclamation is sponsoring a contest seeking innovative solutions to eradicate invasive zebra and quagga mussels from large lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Now there’s a problem worth solving.

Realistically, no invasive species of the 180-plus varieties that have shown up in the Great Lakes have been so disruptive to the natural ecology. If someone can come up with a mussel poison, dredge, birth-control system or other method of eliminating the scourge, the $100,000 of government money they’ll win would be the best use of tax dollars ever spent.

Currently, no known broad-scale application for open water exists to safely eradicate mussels in an environmentally sound manner. (Learn more by clicking here.)

Solutions may be novel treatments or approaches that build upon existing treatments. They must be specific to invasive mussels without causing significant harm to non-target organisms such as native mussels or threatened and endangered species. They must be in compliance with existing environmental protection regulations or must be implementable with reasonable modifications to existing regulations. Successful treatments must be cost-effective and scalable to large water bodies.

The challenge will consist of three stages. Stage one is a theoretical challenge. It requires the submission of a paper that describes novel treatments/methods for open-water mussel eradication. If successful, stage two is planned to provide proof-of-concept in a laboratory-scale demonstration.

So come on scientists, researchers and other deep-thinkers. There’s $100,000 of other people’s money that could be yours.

Categories: Michigan – Mike Schoonveld

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