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Part 2:  Bureau receives 99 proposals in competition for solutions to stop spread of invasive mussels
(This story is from the Columbia Basin Bulletin.  Used with Permission).

The Bureau of Reclamation received nearly 100 proposals from entities participating in an agency challenge to develop new ways to stop the proliferation of invasive mussel species.

The Bureau announced in December that it would be seeking “innovative solutions for the 100 percent eradication of invasive quagga and zebra mussels, lakes and rivers in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner.”

The challenge is actually a competition, with applicants aiming for a $100,000 purse that will be split among a maximum five winners.

Peter Soeth, a public affairs specialist with the Bureau in Denver, reports that 99 solution proposals were submitted by the Feb. 28 deadline.

“We will now review and rate those proposals to see if any will qualify for the funding,” Soeth said. “Once that is complete, we will announce the winners.”

Invasive mussels have caused havoc in waters where they have become established, rapidly reproducing to a point where they infest hydro and irrigation structures, along with shoreline structures and watercraft.

“Invasive mussel infestations pose significant logistical and economic challenges for local communities, recreationists and water managers by potentially disrupting water deliveries, increasing facility maintenance costs and impacting the local ecology,” the Bureau states in a press release.

“Currently, no known broad-scale application for open water exists to safely eradicate mussels in an environmentally sound manner,” said David Raff, science adviser for the Bureau.

Solutions may be novel treatments or approaches that build upon existing treatments. They must be specific to invasive mussels, “without harm to non-target organisms such as native mussels or threatened and endangered species. They must be already in compliance with existing federal discharge permits and environmental protection regulations or must be implementable with reasonable modifications to existing regulations. Successful treatments must be cost-effective and scalable to large water bodies.”

Over the last decade, efforts to detect and prevent invasive mussel species have quickly grown to become an environmental priority in Columbia Basin states that have mussel-free waters. Boat inspections have become fairly common on highways and at marinas and boat launches, and public information campaigns have been undertaken.

The inspections have detected dozens of mussel-infested watercraft in transit from other states where mussels are present.

The competition for the $100,000 prize is the first of a three-part challenge. The solution proposals were submitted as “white papers.” The second stage will involve “proof-of-concept” in a laboratory-scale demonstration. Stage three will involve field-scale demonstrations.

The competition is also part of a series of initiatives that were developed through a collaboration of western governors, as well as federal, state and tribal agencies. The initiatives were highlighted by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last June.

Reclamation is collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Molloy and Associates.

More information on the mussel challenge can be found at:
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