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Site eliminates invasive pest to protect drinking water

Potassium chloride has proven to be a silver bullet to eradicate an invasive mussel species that has plagued the infrastructure at a US quarry.

Earlier this year, Carroll County authorities, in the eastern state of Maryland, USA, hatched a $350,000 plan to eliminate zebra mussels that have been dwelling in Hyde’s Quarry for the past three years.

The county purchased the quarry in 2008 as a potential drinking water source. However, that plan was soon in jeopardy after divers from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources found mussels residing in the site last year.

The discovery was problematic because Zebra mussels can reproduce at a rapid rate and have the potential to block piping infrastructure.

Local authorities were granted permission to tackle the mussel problem with potassium chloride, which has a suffocating effect. The chemical concentration approved ensured it was not harmful to other animals or humans.

According to the Carroll County Times, bags containing 4500 zebra mussels were pulled from the quarry to investigate the effectiveness of the program.

Tom Devilbiss, director of land and resource management, said it appeared the eradication effort had been successful after no mussels in the test sample survived.

“Zebra mussels are very detrimental to the use [of Hyde’s] as a water supply,” he told the publication. “Their prolific nature causes them to choke up and actually render water supply systems, their pipes, almost useless because they clog all those systems up.”

He added that zebra mussels are a highly invasive species that had not previously been found in Maryland, except within the Chesapeake Bay.

“Their occurrence in Hyde’s Quarry was a concern for us as staff, and actually for the state for that matter.”

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