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Draining Omaha lake proposed to kill off 2 invasive species

September 28, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to drain an Omaha lake in order to kill off two invasive species living in the body of water, according to a recently released environmental assessment.

The federal agency warned in its proposal that zebra mussel and common carp will likely destroy Glenn Cunningham Lake’s entire fishery if the aggressive foreign species aren’t eradicated, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

The presence of adult mussels in the lake was announced in August. The voracious eaters are capable of multiplying by the millions and gobble up plankton, which many native freshwater fish need. The mussels can attach themselves to boat motors, bait buckets and dam mechanisms, and cause damage to motors and facilities.

The corps is accepting public comment until Oct. 17 on the plan to drain the lake this fall, along with other options. The federal agency, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the city of Omaha will then decide on what course to take.

“I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t (drain the lake) at this point,” said Jeff Jackson, the Game and Parks Commission’s southeast district fisheries manager.

Draining the lake in the fall will expose the mussels to dry and freezing weather in the winter, which could kill most of the species. Remaining pools would be treated with the chemical poison Rotenone after the lake is drained.

Rotenone is the only cost listed in the corps’ plan, totaling $12,000.

A wide variety of aquatic life would likely be killed in the draining, freezing and chemical treatment, federal officials said in the report. There’s also a likelihood of unpleasant odors as fish and vegetation decay, but the corps concluded that the negatives would be short lived.

The agency estimated that the lake would take a year to refill with normal rainfall, and that aquatic life would soon return.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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