OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – If you have a boat, you may have taken it out for Labor Day and could be heading out again this weekend. But before you do, you need to check it for zebra mussels.

The invasive species has been confirmed in nearly 30 Oklahoma lakes, including Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City.

Invasive zebra mussel are present in Oklahoma lakes
Invasive zebra mussels have been found in Lake Hefner. Image KFOR

Zebra mussels are a familiar foe here in Oklahoma. They’re really small, but they can cause really big problems.

“Usually, we’ll find a public water body or two every year, perhaps, that have a new infestation of zebra mussels,” said Don P. Brown with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Brown says the list of infested lakes now stands at 27, including Lake Overholser and here at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, where you can see them on the shoreline.

“Zebra mussels are small,” Brown said. “When fully grown, they’re about dime-size mussels, and like their name implies, they have stripes on them.”

For water sources like Lake Hefner, they can lead to costly problems.

“They’ll end up clogging up the waterworks and the pipe ways, and they have to be cleaned,” Brown said. “There’s no danger to the water supply itself as far as drinking water, but it just costs a lot more money to try to maintain everything after these mussels get into the system.”

Brown says once zebra mussels make it to a lake, nothing can be done to eradicate them, but boaters can play a key role in controlling their spread.

“Whenever they go out on the water in their boat, we’d like them to make sure all the water is drained out of their boats and they clean it with a power wash perhaps, and then let that boat dry out for, hopefully, if they can, a week,” Brown said. “That should eliminate any type of transfer that we might get from lake to lake with the boats.”

It can be very hard to see zebra mussel eggs, so that’s why it’s important to clean your boat even if you don’t see any on it.

Below are the Oklahoma lakes confirmed to have zebra mussels:

  • Verdigris River Navigation System
  • Shawnee Twin Lakes
  • Ardmore City Lake
  • Canton Lake
  • Eufaula Lake
  • Foss Lake
  • Ft. Gibson Lake
  • Grand Lake
  • Hudson Lake
  • Kaw Lake
  • Keystone Lake
  • Lake Carl Blackwell
  • Lake Hefner
  • Lake McMurtry
  • Lake Murray
  • Lake Overholser
  • Oologah Lake
  • Pawnee City Lake
  • Ponca City Lake
  • Robert S. Kerr Reservoir
  • Skiatook Lake
  • Sooner Lake
  • Texoma Lake
  • W.R. Hollway/ Chimney Rock/ Pumpback Lake
  • Waurika Lake
  • Webbers Falls
  • Lake Ellsworth