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Deploying a mega trap intended to catch large numbers of African clawed frogs. Photo credit: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What is Rapid Response?

Even the best prevention efforts cannot stop all invasive species. Early detection, rapid assessment and rapid response (EDRR) is a critical second defense against the establishment of aquatic invasive species. EDRR increases the likelihood that localized invasive populations will be found, contained, and eradicated before they become widely established. EDRR can slow range expansion, and avoid the need for costly long-term control efforts. Effective EDRR depends upon the timely ability to answer critical questions such as:

  1. What is the species of concern, and has it been authoritatively identified?

  2. Where is it located and likely to spread?

  3. What harm may the species cause?

  4. What actions (if any) should be taken?

  5. Who has the needed authorities and resources?

  6. How will efforts be funded?

Why should you care?

Invasive species exact a high price from both society and our environment, threatening native fish and wildlife and their habitats. Invasive species:

  • Cost Americans more than $137 billion a year.

  • Impact nearly half the species listed as threatened or endangered.

  • Can devastate key industries including seafood, agriculture, timber, hydro-electricity, and recreation.

  • Impede recreation such as boating, fishing, hunting, gardening, and hiking.

  • Spread easily by wind, water, animals, people, equipment, and imported goods.

  • Increase frequency and intensity of wildfires and livestock poisonings.

  • Destabilize soil and alter hydrology of streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.


Successful Early Detection and Rapid Response Programs include:

  1. Potential threats are being identified in time to allow risk-mitigation measures to be taken;

  2. New invasive species are being detected in time to allow efficient and environmentally sound decisions to be made;

  3. Responses to invasions are effective and environmentally sound and prevent the spread and permanent establishment of invasive species;

  4. Adequate and timely information is being provided to decision-makers, the public, and to trading partners concerned about the status of invasive species within an area; and

  5. Lessons learned from past efforts are being used to guide current and future efforts.

Columbia River Basin State Rapid Response Plans and Guidelines for Dreissenids
State Rapid Response Exercises
Federal Rapid Response Plans
Provincial Rapid Response Plans/Guidelines
After-Response Action Reports

Moss Ball Incident Action Report (Columbia River Basin AIS Team, July 2021) 

Examples of Quagga/Zebra Mussel Eradication Projects

Open Water


Highline Lake, Colorado

Lake Michigan, Michigan

Dreissenid mussel Zequanox control demonstration: Good Harbor Reef, MI (.pdf of PPT presentation, August 2020)

Round Lake, Michigan

Round Lake Zequanox Application: Lessons Learned (.pdf of PPT presentation, Keson, August 2020)

Christmas Lake, Minnesota

Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) eradication efforts in Christmas Lake, Minnesota (2017)

Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota

Zebra Mussel Control with Low-Dose Copper in Lake Minnetonka (MAISRC 2019)

Low-dose copper for zebra mussel suppression (.pdf of PPT presentation, Waller and Dahlberg, August 2020)

Carroll County, Maryland - Hyde's quarry

Size: Maximum depth is 51-60 feet.

Zebra Mussel Discovery: 2018

Zebra Mussel Control: KCl

Authority: Carroll County, Maryland

Method: AIS Marine (Canada)

Collateral Damage: Popular diving location is now closed to diving.

Cost: $350,000

Eradication: Bags of mussels were suspended in the water column, and KCl was pumped into the lake. All the mussels in the bags died after treatment, and local officials claim eradication.

Notes: This quarry was a popular diving location before the discovery of zebra mussels in 2018. It has since been closed to diving. The lake contains submerged training platforms, boats, a bus, and a sunken airplane. It is touted as a great place for novice divers.

Billmeyer Quarry, Bainbridge, Pennsylvania (2017)

Billmeyer Quarry Consumptive Use Mitigation Project

Quagga Mussel Eradication Confirmed in Historic Pennsylvania Lake Apr 16, 2019

Test results show no evidence of quagga mussels two years after eradication project. (EarthTec QZ 2019)

Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba

Size: surface area- 24,514 km2 (9,465 sq mi)

Zebra Mussel Discovery: October 2013

Zebra Mussel Control: closed harbor areas with silt curtains and treated with liquid potash


Method: Potassium Chloride Aqueous Solution (20, administered and monitored in the harbours by Ontario-based ASI Consulting Group Ltd.


Collateral Damage: impacts to fishing boats and harbors during the treatment window.

Cost: $500,000

Eradication: No, large clumps of mussels were found along shorelines within one year.

Notes: Zebra mussels were first found on the hull of a private boat and a dock at Winnipeg Beach and on some fishing boats dry docked at Gimli.


Smithville Lake, Missouri

Categorical Exclusion (note: this water body is infested)

Truman Lake, Missouri

Categorical Exclusion (note: this water body is infested)

Pomme de Terre, Hermitage, Missouri

Size: 7,820 acres (32 km2) multipurpose pool; 16,100 acres (65 km2) flood pool

Zebra Mussel Discovery: December 2015 Zebra Mussel Control: Drawdown and chemicals

Authority: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers & Missouri Department of Conservation

Method: the lake was dropped 3 feet and the Lindley Arm where the infested dock had been launch treated twice—48.6 pounds (6 ppm) of copper sulfate crystals and 60 lbs. of potassium chloride each time. 


Collateral Damage:

Cost: $356 (chemicals); $1345 (MDC biologists)

Eradication: TBD, Extra zebra mussel samplers have been deployed

Notes: a dock with mussels was being transferred from an infested water; mussels were found on it at new location & dock was removed immediately from the water.


Lake Piru, California

Size: surface area 1,240 acres

Quagga Mussel Discovery: December 2013 (Found on the patrol boat and settlement samplers).

Quagga Mussel Control:

Authority: United Water Conservation District



Collateral Damage:


Eradication: No.

Notes: First Southern California water impacted that wasn’t connected to Colorado River. Several meetings to discuss drawdown and treatment occurred. Competing interests resulted in no drawdown. Drought in California resulted in reservoir dropping to 17% of pool


San Justo Reservoir, California

Size: 9,785 acre-feet

Zebra Mussel Discovery: November 1 2008 (brought in by angler).

Zebra Mussel Control: Full Closure of Lake; No public access

Authority: Bureau of Reclamation and California Fish and Wildlife

Method: Annual water drawdowns for population control have resulted in smaller populations in 2016 than in 2008.

Duration: 2008 - present

Collateral Damage: Loss of fishing and recreation


Eradication: No.

Zebra Mussel Eradication Project for San Justo Reservoir, Hollister Conduit, and San Benito County Water Distribution System (FONSI-09-010) (Bureau of Reclamation, South-Central California Area Office 2015)


Lake Offut, Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska

Size: 113 acres

Zebra Mussel Discovery: April 2006; rediscovered May 1, 2014

Zebra Mussel Control: Closed to public access, treated with copper sulfate

Authority: U.S. Air Force

Method: Lake was treated with copper sulfate twice

Duration: fall 2008 and winter 2009

Collateral Damage: Loss of fishing and recreation


Eradication: No.

Notes: Subsequent monitoring in 2009 was negative for zebra mussel larvae and adults. However, in October 2010, three live adults were found on a sampling disk, but no veligers were detected in subsequent sampling efforts.

Zebra Mussel Eradication Project, Lake Offutt, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (November 2009)


Lake Zorinsky, Omaha, Nebraska

Size: 225 acres

Zebra Mussel Discovery:November 2010 (a local Boy Scout found a zebra mussel attached to a beer can at the edge of the lake).

Zebra Mussel Control:

Authority: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers & City of Omaha

Method: the lake was partially drained in the winter of 2010–11, lowering its level by 17.5 feet (5.3 m):


Collateral Damage:


Eradication: No. Mussel veligers detected July 2016

Notes: Zebra mussels found at Zorinsky Lake in 2010 included some of the largest found anywhere in the U.S. up to that time; the largest was about 1.7 inches. Once they drained the lake, more than 900 mussels were found on the exposed bed.

Assessment of the Water Quality Conditions at Ed Zorinsky Reservoir and the Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) Population Emerged after the Drawdown of the Reservoir and Management Implications for the District's Papillion and Salt Creek Reservoirs (USACE 2012)


Millbrook Quarry, Virginia

Size: 12 surface acres; 93 ft max depth (180 Million gallons)

Zebra Mussel Discovery: August 2002

Zebra Mussel Control: January 31, 2006 – February 17, 2006.

Authority: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Method: 174,000 gallons of potassium chloride solution

Target Dose: 100 mg/l (100 ppm)

Duration: 3 weeks

Collateral Damage: Minimal to non-mollusks

Cost: $365,000

Eradication: Yes

Notes: Only known successful open-water eradication attempt for zebra mussels in North America

Final Environmental Assessment Millbrook Quarry Zebra mussel and Quagga Mussel Eradication (2005)

Millbrook Quarry, Virginia Zebra Mussel Eradication (2005)


Edinboro Lake, Pennsylvania

Size: 252 surface acres

Zebra Mussel Discovery: 2000

Zebra Mussel Control: December 2000 and November 2001

Authority: Borough of Edinboro

Method: Winter Drawdown

Target Drawdown: 5 feet

Duration: unknown

Collateral Damage: Minimal

Cost: unknown

Eradication: No; mussels quickly repopulated

Winter Lake Drawdown as a Strategy for Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) Control: Results of Pilot Studies in Minnesota and Pennsylvania (Grazio and Montz 2002)


Lake Ossawinnamakee, Minnesota

Size: 644 surface acres

Zebra Mussel Discovery: 2003

Zebra Mussel Control: 2004, 2005

Authority: MN Department of Natural Resources

Method: Copper Sulfate used kill the veligers in the bay leading to an outlet stream (Pelican Brook ) that exits the lake, flows for about 5 miles and enters the Pine River, which then flows for about 11 miles and enters the Mississippi River. MNDNR wanted to prevent short-term movement through this connection. A 26-acre bay leading to the outlet stream was treated weekly with a chelated copper sulfate product.

Duration: Weekly during summer months (June-September)

Collateral Damage: Molluscan fauna eliminated, as well as amphipods, mayflies and stoneflies, with some species of caddisflies also showing impacts.


Eradication: No: In fall 2005, zebra mussels were reported in a backwater lake on the mainstem of the Mississippi River downstream of the Ossawinnamakee connection. While these may not have moved from the lake, it stopped further efforts at treatment and containment for Lake Ossawinnamakee.


Lake Zumbro, Minnesota

Size: 1600 surface acres

Zebra Mussel Discovery: 2000

Zebra Mussel Control: November 2001

Authority: Borough of Edinboro

Method: Winter Drawdown

Target Drawdown: 5 feet

Duration: More than one week

Collateral Damage: Minimal

Cost: unknown

Eradication: No; mussels quickly repopulated


El Dorado Reservoir, Kansas

Size: 8000 surface acres

Zebra Mussel Discovery: 2003

Zebra Mussel Control: December, 2003

Authority: KS Department of Wildlife & Parks / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Method: Drawdown

Target Drawdown: 3.5 feet

Duration: Unknown

Collateral Damage: Minimal

Cost: Unknown

Eradication: No, mussel population quickly recovered


Lake George, New York

Size: 28,000 surface acres

Zebra Mussel Discovery: 1999

Zebra Mussel Control: 2000 - present

Authority: Lake George Association / Darrin Freshwater Institute

Method: Hand harvesting

Duration: Unknown

Collateral Damage: Minimal

Cost: Unknown

Eradication: No. Hand harvesting may keep local populations down temporarily, but these populations quickly recover once harvesting has stopped.

US Army Corps of Engineers

Environmental Assessment Zebra Mussel and Common Carp Control & Fish Renovation Project, Glenn Cunningham Lake Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska (USACE 2018)

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