Senator McGuire passes bill to cut red tape and implement Quagga and Zebra Mussel inspection programs

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sacramento, CA – Senator Mike McGuire’s legislation that cuts through red tape and expedites Quagga Mussel inspection programs at Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma is now headed to the Governor’s desk after receiving bi-partisan support in the Legislature.

The bill would provide public agencies, like Sonoma Water, the authority to obtain funding from the State of California to implement inspection programs for invasive mussel species at local lakes controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The reason McGuire is advancing this legislation with Assemblymembers Levine and Wood: The US Army Corps of Engineers never spent $600,000 in state grant funds that would have created a robust inspection program at both Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino. The funds were awarded four years ago.

Senator McGuire’s SB 790 would allow a partner agency – and not necessarily the Army Corps – to apply directly for and obtain equivalent funding in order to implement a full-time mussel prevention program at each of the reservoirs. 

The bill will ensure that entities who play a critical role in co-managing reservoirs – and partner with the Army Corps of Engineers – can qualify for funding associated with mandatory mussel inspection programs, installing decontamination stations and educational initiatives preventing the spread of invasive mussels.

Currently, the Army Corps of Engineers as the lead manager for both reservoirs, is the only agency that can apply for state grant funds.

Quagga and Zebra mussels are one of the most invasive species on the planet and can lay 1 million eggs every year causing irreparable harm to critical water management infrastructure. Quagga and Zebra mussels have now taken hold in some of California’s most important fresh water lakes and they are heading to some of the largest lakes on the North Coast – Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino. These two lakes are managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

“We need permanent protection of our lakes from these invasive little buggers. Stakes couldn’t be higher and we must expedite protective measures that will stop the spread of mussels into these heavily visited reservoirs and their water conveyance systems,” Senator Mike McGuire said.  “While we dodged a bullet earlier this summer at Lake Mendocino, the situation could have been much worse if the boat would have entered the lake during the week when the Army Corp’s part-time program was not in effect. SB 790 would allow partner agencies – such as Sonoma Water – to receive funding to launch a permanent mussel inspection and prevention program in partnership with the Army Corps.”

In June, Fish and Wildlife personnel avoided a potential massive crisis when a boat with invasive mussels was intercepted at Lake Mendocino utilizing trained mussel-sniffing dogs.

“Time is of the essence. I’m grateful to partner with Senator McGuire and Sonoma Water to expedite these Quagga Mussel inspection programs at Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma,” said Mendocino County Supervisor Carre Brown.

SB 790 received overwhelming bipartisan support passing both the Senate and Assembly last week. The bill is co-authored by Assemblymembers Marc Levine and Jim Wood and Senator Bill Monning. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk and has to be signed by Sept. 30.