Boaters seeking to go on to Nacimiento Lake and San Antonio Lake will need to pass an inspection prior to launch, to reduce the risk of invasive species infestation, the county has announced.
No vessels that have been on an infested lake in the past 10 days will be allowed on Nacimiento or San Antonio lakes.
“If you’ve been on an infested lake in the last 30 days, your boat must be clean, drained, and dry,” county engineers wrote in a press release.
Boaters should allow extra time to get through the inspection process. They must carry a signed and stamped “vessel screening permit” or run the risk of being fined up to $2,000. Permits must be renewed every 14 days to reduce the risk of re-entry.
Invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels have been spreading into California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah waterways over the past four years, according to project engineers.
Lake Mead in Nevada/Arizona is infested, they wrote, as are an additional 25 locations in California, including Lake Havasu and the Colorado River.
The closest infested lake is San Justo Lake in San Benito County.
Quagga and zebra mussels disrupt the ecosystem, the county engineers wrote. “They reproduce at incredible rates and cluster and clog boat hulls, propellers, engines, and intakes; cover piers and pilings; clog water pipes and intakes; and ultimately coat water’s edge with sharp, smelly shells,” they wrote.
“Worse yet, once mussels get a foothold, there is no known way to get them out of our lakes” the engineers wrote.
The environmental and economic impact of infestation could be devastating, they wrote.
Invasive mussels spread from lake to lake by “hitchhiking” on boats from infested waters.
The county has trained 150 volunteers to inspect boats as they launch.
“Keeping our lake clean and safe is our highest priority. I cannot stress strongly enough the necessity to implement the protective measures to do so” said San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Frank Mecham.
For more information, go to www.slocountywater.org.