The County Board of Supervisors has approved spending nearly 2 million dollars to prevent Castaic Lake from becoming “mussel beach.”
Unlike, the Muscle Beach in Venice that made body builders like Arnold Schwarzenegger famous, the potential spread of the non-native dreissenid mussels to freshwater bodies of water such as Castaic and Pyramid lakes can cause great economic and ecosystem damage.
According to a Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation report mussel infestation in pipes, pumps, or other components of municipal and industrial water supply systems or power plant cooling systems can be expensive to eliminate.
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The ecosystem of freshwater lakes and rivers can also be disrupted or negatively affected. Once a water system is infested, the costly measures required to eradicate these mussels can have serious detrimental effects on the recreational aspects of a freshwater lake or river system.
Currently, the Department of Parks and Recreation has implemented screening interviews and inspection protocols to prevent the introduction of the mussels through infested boats that recreate at Castaic Lake.
Under the current program, watercraft whose owners have indicated that they have recently recreated in an infected waterway must pass an inspection prior to launching.
Officials say this approach has two primary limitations. First, it assumes that all information provided during the screening interview is credible. Second, there is no current screening or inspection program in place at Pyramid Lake, which is located just 16 miles to the north and is the source of water for Castaic Lake.
Although the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department currently provides public safety services at Pyramid Lake, there is no watercraft inspection program in place at this time.
The County Board of Supervisors will vote to approve a resolution authorizing the Director of Parks and Recreation to execute an agreement with the State of California Department of Water Resources, effective July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2014 in the maximum amount of $1,798,347 to provide a dreissenid mussel inspection and education program at Castaic Lake and Pyramid Lake.
This program will enable the Department to inspect every watercraft allowed to launch at Castaic Lake and Pyramid Lake.
County documents indicated the funding needed for the Fiscal Year 2011-12 Dreissenid Mussel Inspection and Education Program will be included in the Final Adopted Budget at no Net County Cost.
Each watercraft, including kayaks, launching at Castaic Lake or Pyramid Lake will undergo a thorough inspection by a trained department staff member. The watercraft will be required to be clean of all debris, completely dry and should not have been used in an infected lake within the past seven days. Watercraft that fails inspection will be prevented from launching.
Once a watercraft has been deemed safe and granted lake access, department staff will apply "bands" connecting the watercraft to the trailer when the vessel exits the lake.
This will ensure the inspected vessel is not used between launchings and upon return to Castaic Lake or Pyramid Lake, watercrafts with intact bands can bypass future inspections.
This certification program will ensure that all watercraft have been thoroughly inspected, avoid redundant screening and reduce processing time by allowing staff to concentrate on watercraft that have not been previously inspected.
This watercraft inspection and certification program will increase resource protection and reduce waiting time for boaters who regularly visit Castaic and Pyramid lakes.
Based on data from similar inspection programs in Southern California, it is estimated that anywhere between two percent and 11 percent of watercraft attempting to launch at Castaic Lake and Pyramid Lake will fail inspection