Governor signs Senator McGuire’s bill to cut red tape and implement Quagga and Zebra Mussel inspection programs

Thursday, September 20, 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 has been signed by the Governor.

This new law will 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 advanced 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 will now 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.

Prior to this legislation being signed, the Army Corps of Engineers, as the lead manager for both reservoirs, was the only agency that could apply for state grant funds.

Quagga and Zebra mussels are some 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 this new law will expedite protective measures that will stop the spread of mussels into these heavily visited reservoirs and their water conveyance systems,” Senator Mike McGuire said.  “SB 790 will now 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.

“Sonoma Water can now apply for critical mussel prevention dollars to bolster our prevention efforts and keep our waterways mussel-free,” said Sonoma Water Board of Directors Chairman James Gore.  “We appreciate the support of Senator McGuire and our local representatives who worked tirelessly to develop and pass SB 790. Governor Brown’s signature sends a strong message that protecting our water resources from invasive species remains a top statewide priority.”

SB 790 received overwhelming bipartisan support passing both the Senate and Assembly. The bill is co-authored by Assemblymembers Marc Levine and Jim Wood and Senator Bill Monning.