Chelan County is launching a campaign to combat an invasive aquatic species.

Zebra and quagga mussels are a variety of freshwater, bivalve mollusk that are about the size of a human fingernail.

The mussels, which originated in Europe, are highly prolific and have already spread rapidly throughout the Eastern U.S., including the Great Lakes.

The species propagates by attaching to the hulls of boats which are then moved from one aquatic environment to another.

Chelan County Commissioner, Bob Bugert, says the mussels can wreak havoc in several ways once they're introduced to any body of water with connections to human infrastructure.

"They can clog up the intakes for municipal water supplies and the various components of a hydropower facility. They can also block irrigation systems as well. They are a nuisance species that can easily become a very expensive one too."

Although the mussels could easily spread within the county's smaller lakes, Lake Chelan is considered of principle concern for their potential proliferation.

Bugert says the County's approach to heading off any issues posed by the invasive species is triple-pronged.

"We've got three interrelated efforts. One is called the 'Keep it Blue' Campaign, which is all about community outreach and education. We're also going to introduce stations in the county where watercraft can be inspected and cleaned. We also have a long-term monitoring program to ensure the success of our other efforts as well."

The County will hold a town hall meeting about zebra and quagga mussels and its efforts to halt their spread on December 14 from 5-7 p.m. at Campbell's Resort in Chelan.

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