Our View: Havasu needs to flex its decontaminator in mussel fight

May 4, 2019

There were two ways to interpret recent news that a quagga mussell decontamination machine is now processing up to 100 boats each year on Lake Havasu. The first way, of course, is with pride and optimism. It’s great that boaters on Lake Havasu have a free option for keeping their vessels clear of the bothersome bivalves. State Game and Fish officials say use of the decontamination station has increased each year.

The second way to interpret that news is with some disappointment. Four years after the decontaminator was moved to Lake Havasu, at the not-insignificant cost of about $300,000, it’s surprising that it’s not more regularly used.

Accessibility is a big part of the problem. The decontamination station’s use is by appointment only. That’s because it requires the staffing to provide the service — hot water temperatures and high water pressure make self-service a less-than-great option. Ideally, the decontamination station would be available to all boaters whenever they need to use it.

Education is another issue. Boaters need constant reminders about the need to keep their vessels clean and dry. It was concerning that the state stopped supporting local education efforts in the form of the Marine Association’s “Sticker-a-Mussel” program, but it’s nice to see that recent Game & Fish marketing efforts have focused on making boaters aware of Lake Havasu’s decontaminator.

A certificate of decontamination is useful for boaters as they go home, reducing the amount of time they spend at inspection stations in other states, and reducing the risk of fines and quarantines. Most importantly, it helps stop the spread of quaggas to places where the invasive species hasn’t yet taken over.

The Lake Havasu boating community has been at the forefront of the quagga fight for more than a decade, and for good reason: Local initiative is a great way of keeping restrictive federal regulations at bay. Let’s work together to increase use of the decontaminator, so that we can show we’re doing our part in the fight against invasive species.

— Today’s News-Herald