Why do we need a quarantine?

By John Nelson
Approximately six years ago, based on information provided from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and other State and Federal agencies, the Lake Quivira Board of Directors implemented a strict quarantine requirement for all watercraft entering our lake. This rule was enacted to stop the chance of infesting Lake Quivira with zebra mussels, which have infested lakes throughout most of the Midwest and East Coast. In most states, it is illegal to knowingly release zebra mussels into any waterbody. Additionally, many states on the West Coast have implemented border checkpoints for the examination of all watercraft being brought into their state. If any evidence is found, the vessel must immediately be taken to a decontamination/quarantine area.
First identified in 1988 in the Detroit River, it is believed zebra mussels were brought into the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway in the ballast water of ships from the Black and Caspian Seas in Europe. Once initial infestation had occurred, the spread of zebra mussels occurred rapidly throughout the Midwest and East Coast. With females laying thousands of larvae at a time, they will quickly overcome any body of water. The primary cause for further contamination of additional waterways occurs from the transport of the zebra mussel larvae in contaminated recreational boats and bait buckets between lakes and rivers. Once a lake is infested, a noticeable sign is the presence of crystal clear water, which many individuals identify as a healthy lake condition. In actuality, the opposite is true. Zebra mussels feed by filtering water, rapidly removing all the plankton and nutrient particles from the water. These particles are what cause the cloudy appearance in lake water and provide nourishment and protection for fish and other aquatic species necessary for a healthy lake and ecosystem. They also significantly reduce the oxygen levels in the water which enhances the growth of blue algae.
Today, over forty lakes and almost all major rivers throughout Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri are contaminated with zebra mussels. They are ranked as one of the top three aquatic invasive species threats to Kansas waters by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Most recently, the City of Lawrence has identified zebra mussels in parts of the city water system. Additionally, a small lake near Paola, KS, is now contaminated simply because they purchased and moved used dock flotation materials to the lake from Lake Lotawana in Missouri. The Lake and Residential Committee, working closely with Midwest Lake Management, tests Lake Quivira on an annual basis for the presence of zebra mussels. This year, the testing will also include certain areas upstream from Lake Quivira.
Lake Quivira rules are very specific relating to the control of zebra mussels. All watercraft, new or used, including, but not limited to, pontoon boats, motor boats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and all boat trailers must go through a two- week quarantine period at our Lake Maintenance Facility located at 4600 Renner Road. Additionally, all boat and dock site equipment, including outboard motors, paddles/oars, foam knee boards, swim floats, and dock materials including ladders and flotation materials must be reported and undergo the same quarantine period prior to being brought into our community. No live bait can be brought into the lake unless it was purchased from Minnesota Bait or Cabela’s and brought to the lake in the original bag with proof of purchase. Guests are not allowed to bring any bait to the lake.
In 2016, additional rules were implemented related to the use of sand for dock site construction purposes. In that most of the local construction sand comes from the KAW River, a contaminated river, all sand used for dock site construction or beaches must be kiln dried (heat treated) and purchased from an approved vendor. Verification of such purchase is required by Lake Quivira Security. Currently, the Lake and Residential Committee is in the process of implementing new rules concerning the use of only new encapsulated foam flotation materials for all floating dock construction or refurbishment. Violation of any of these rules would be subject to a fine and loss of lake privileges.
At times these rules may seem onerous. However, the health of our lake and golf course (lake water is used for irrigation) is of utmost importance for our future enjoyment and property values. Everyone is asked to do their part in controlling the spread of zebra mussels into Lake Quivira.
Please remember if you are intending to use that new water toy for your upcoming 4th of July party, it needs to be placed in quarantine by June 15. For further information, please feel free to contact Gary Anderson with LQ Lake Maintenance or any member of the Lake and Residential Committee.