Thirty years ago, no one in the U.S. knew what the hell a zebra mussel was. Five years back, the stories of the damage they can wreak on municipal water systems and aquatic ecosystems were still a fairy tale for Texans. Fifteen months ago, wildlife officials remained confident that the threat was confined to Lake Texoma.
The mussels made their debut in the Trinity River basin last year, showing up at Lake Ray Roberts north of Denton. State officials doubled down on their effort to slow their spread with their wash-your-damn-boat public education campaign, but you didn't have to be a biologist to see where this saga was heading, which is the Gulf of Mexico.
The bivalves have taken yet another step in that direction. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department announced today that a U.S. Geological Survey biologist recently discovered a juvenile zebra mussel in Lake Lewisville. It probably got there by boat.
This is bad news, not only because Dallas gets water from Lake Lewisville -- zebra mussels don't affect water quality, city officials say, but they are a pain in the ass to clean off water intakes and other equipment -- but also because people like to boat on the reservoir, meaning that the likelihood of someone forgetting to drain and rinse their craft before taking it to another lake is high. Unavoidable even.
Parks & Wildlife will no doubt urge us to keep fighting the good fight, but spirits inevitably flag when facing an invincible foe. Maybe it's time to give up and embrace our new aquatic overlords.