Zebra mussel invasion of local lakes to be discussed at WCSU forum
Nov. 15 forum will focus on history, ecological impact and prevention of mussel spread

DANBURY, CONN. — The recent discovery of the invasive zebra mussel species in Lake Lillinonah and Lake Zoar and its implications for the ecology of fresh-water resources throughout the Housatonic River region will be the focus of a public forum to be held on Monday, Nov. 15, at Western Connecticut State University.

The presentation titled “Invasive: Zebra Mussels on the Move” will be at 7 p.m. in Room 125 of the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The event, cosponsored by the Candlewood Lake Authority (CLA) and the WCSU “Science at Night” program, will provide information and discussion focusing on the ecological, industrial and recreational risks posed by the presence and potential spread of the zebra mussel in the Housatonic watershed. Admission will be free and the public is invited to attend; a reception with light refreshments will follow in the Science Building Atrium.

The forum will address concerns raised by residents of western Connecticut following the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announcement in mid-October that the aquatic invasive zebra mussel species had been discovered in the waters of Lake Lillinonah and Lake Zoar. Sponsors for the event noted that the session is designed specifically to provide information on zebra mussel invasions and their impact to residents of communities bordering the affected lakes as well as those surrounding Candlewood Lake, Connecticut’s largest lake and primary fresh-water resource for the Greater Danbury area.

“The potential for zebra mussel introduction at Candlewood is significant given that the very waters where they have been found — the Housatonic River — are the same waters pumped up to Candlewood Lake,” CLA Executive Director Larry Marsicano observed. “The early life stages of this invasive bivalve possibly could gain access by way of the Rocky River Power Station, and the penstock that connects the river to the lake.”

The panel will feature three speakers with extensive experience in the study of zebra mussel invasions and their effects on the fresh-water lakes and rivers where they are found. Nancy Balcom, associate director of the Connecticut Sea Grant Program at the University of Connecticut/Avery Point, will provide background on zebra mussels, review recent studies of boaters and anglers impacted by invasive species, and outline strategies to prevent or contain spread of zebra mussel populations. Peter Aarrestad, director of the DEP Inland Fisheries Division, will discuss the first discovery of zebra mussels in Connecticut at East and West Twin Lakes in Salisbury in 1998 and report on subsequent monitoring of the infestation. Ethan Nedeau, owner and principal aquatic biologist of the Amherst, Mass., ecological consulting firm Biodrawversity, will discuss his extensive field studies of fresh-water mussels in North America and describe his recent discovery of zebra mussels in Lakes Lillinonah and Zoar.

In the DEP Oct. 15 statement announcing the Lillinonah and Zoar findings, DEP Commissioner Arney Marrella stressed the urgency of addressing the infestation in its early stages. “Only small numbers of the zebra mussels have been discovered so far, and it could take some time before we see the impact they may have,” Marrella noted. “The zebra mussels have the potential, however, to do much damage by displacing native mussels, clogging power plant and industrial water intakes, affecting public drinking water distribution systems, and disrupting aquatic ecosystems.

“Zebra mussels can be spread from one water body to another through boating and fishing activities, and Connecticut’s boating and angling communities have worked closely with us over the past 12 years to prevent this from happening,” Marrella added. “With this latest news, it is now time to redouble our efforts to make certain everyone on our waters is aware of common-sense precautions they can take to help contain the spread of zebra mussels.”

For more information on the forum, contact the Candlewood Lake Authority at clainfo@earthlink.net or by phone at (860) 354-6928. The DEP statement may be accessed online at http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?Q=467116&A=3847.

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.



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