What's changed at Lake Powell
Quagga mussels are spreading in Lake Powell, and with the detrimental impact they have on fisheries, beaches, boats and water lines, we want to prevent them from infesting any other waterbodies. If you plan to boat at Powell, be prepared for longer inspection and decontamination lines, particularly on weekends when wait times may exceed an hour or more. Our technicians are routinely finding mussels attached to boats, their anchors, and in sea strainers and we need to be thorough in detecting and removing them. Thank you for your patience.
Common questions about Lake Powell
- It is illegal to possess or move a quagga mussel in the state.
- It is illegal to transport water out of Lake Powell.
- Those people with boats, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and any other floating conveyance are required to stop at inspection stations when open and operating. These include the inspection areas near the ramps at Lake Powell, but also any inspection stations located along Utah’s highways.
- Upon receiving an inspection at Lake Powell, boats will receive a plastic seal and the boat owner is given a receipt of inspection/decontamination. It is illegal to remove a seal from a boat prior to the boat meeting the required dry time (unless necessary for maintenance). We ask that boaters leave the seals on their boats and present their inspection/decontamination receipt to DWR staff at your next destination.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) technicians work on the ramps most daylight hours to assist boaters in complying with state law and to ensure that aquatic invasive species (AIS) are not transported out of the reservoir. Technicians help boaters drain water from their vessels and inspect for attached mussels. Technicians apply orange wire seals to the boat and trailer and give the boat owner a receipt that indicates the boat has been fully inspected. Presenting the receipt at the next waterbody visited will expedite entrance.
Be sure your boat is clean, drained and dry. The UDWR is only conducting exit inspections at Lake Powell. Although Lake Powell is infested with quagga mussels, it is still important to keep the water free from other aquatic invasive species. The National Park Service (NPS) will educate each boater on Lake Powell laws and regulations upon entering the park and before launching.
In addition, if you are a boater whose boat is registered outside the state of Utah, please make sure you complete the online education course and pay the associated fee before using your boat on the Utah side of Lake Powell. Both are required by law.
- Make sure watercraft is clean of mud, plants and animals.
- Remove all drain plugs and sea strainers, if applicable, on the launch ramp and leave them out. Pump all water out of ballast tanks and drain water from the engine before proceeding up the ramp.
- Stop for watercraft inspection at the inspection station if it is open. A technician will assist you and provide you with an inspection receipt and apply a seal to your boat/trailer indicating that the boat has received an official inspection. A professional hot water decontamination may be available upon a request, depending on staffing and the amount of boat traffic the station is experiencing.
- If the inspection station is not open, it is your legal responsibility to clean and drain your boat before leaving Lake Powell, and to transport your boat with all drain plugs removed, including the sea strainer. Draining of ballast tanks can best be accomplished by activating the ballast pumps on both an incline, and later on flat ground. Likewise, draining of engines should be performed on both an incline and flat ground.
You have two options:
1Wait a required dry time and self-certify at your next destination that your boat has met the dry time.
- If your boat has ballast tanks, an inboard motor, or other raw water systems (A/C, shower), the required dry time is always 30 days.
- If your boat does not have any of the above systems, the dry times are:
- 7 days in June–August
- 18 days in September–November, March–May
- 30 days in December–February
2Have your boat professionally decontaminated using 140°F water
Visit www.STDoftheSea.com to find a decontamination station and please call ahead to make an appointment.
Due to the large number of boats at Lake Powell, it is impossible for the UDWR to offer decontaminations to every exiting boat. Our efforts focus on boats that will be launched in Utah before meeting the required dry time for the season. If you plan to launch your boat before meeting the dry time, please let our technicians on the ramp know and we will do our best to provide a decontamination on-site. Boaters with watercraft larger than wakeboard boats or watercraft with attached mussels, please see #8 below for more information.
If you plan to launch before being able to meet the required dry time, the best option is to have your boat decontaminated at Lake Powell. If this is not possible, visit www.STDoftheSea.com and contact a decontamination station on your route of travel to make an appointment for a decontamination. The third option is to find the nearest decontamination station to your residence and make an appointment for a decontamination prior to your next launch. The last option is to call ahead to your next launch destination and make an appointment to have your boat decontaminated immediately prior to launch. NOTE: Sometimes this option is not possible (e.g., if you plan to launch very early in the morning before technicians will be there), and therefore, the first three options should be attempted first.
No, UDWR provides free decontaminations. However, due to the time and personnel required to thoroughly decontaminate slipped/moored boats that typically experience mussel encrustation, owners of these boats will be directed to and have to pay a private business or other entity for a decontamination.
- They impact fisheries by removing large amounts of beneficial plankton from the water, making this important food source unavailable to other aquatic organisms. This impacts the entire food chain all they way up to top fish predator, like bass.
- They pollute shorelines and ruin beaches by covering them with their sharp shells. The shells eventually decompose, releasing a foul odor.
- They damage boats and equipment by using their byssal threads to attach to these areas. They are famous for clogging engine intakes on boat motors, causing a great deal of damage, and sometimes even ruining motors.
- They clog water delivery pipes, resulting in millions of dollars in extra maintenance costs that eventually are passed on to taxpayers.
Knowingly transporting a watercraft with mussels attached could result in a Class A Misdemeanor charge. That charge may include fines up to several thousand dollars in addition to restitution for the decontamination of the watercraft. You could also face seizure and quarantine of your boat.
Upon course completion and payment, boat owners will be able to print out a certificate and place it on their vehicle dash and save the certificate to their phone or print the certificate and keep it on their boat to show proof of course completion before they launch at a Utah waterbody. By printing out the certificate for your vehicle dash, putting one in your boat, and saving it to your phone, you will expedite your entrance and exit to the state.