County: Feds finally move on San Justo mussel infestation

The invasive mussels are shown at the local reservoir. They were discovered in early 2008, the first known presence in California.

A county official Tuesday announced that federal officials are making movement on addressing mussel infestation at San Justo Reservoir that could lead to reopening the facility that has been closed since early 2008.
Management Analyst Sara Fontanos told county supervisors during department head announcements of their Tuesday board meeting that the county had received an email recently from the federal Bureau of Reclamation. The agency informed the county that a public comment period was being “wrapped up” to help culminate a long environmental review process.
“It’s already started,” Fontanos said.
She said Supervisor Anthony Botelho would be among those meeting with representatives from the Bureau of Reclamation and California Fish & Wildlife toward the end of August at the reservoir to review the situation.
Fontanos said the county is “very excited” to finally see movement from the federal government. She mentioned there will be an estimated $3 million cleanup cost involved along with costs to examine or execute recreational opportunities there.
“That is really good news,” Board Chairwoman Margie Barrios responded.
Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz asked if it meant he could be out fishing there in six months.
“I’m not going to say that, supervisor,” Fontanos said. “Soon enough.”
San Justo Reservoir just outside of Hollister has been closed since January 2008 with the discovery of invasive zebra mussels. This particular non-native species can wreak havoc on the ecosystem and water distribution pipeline by clogging it.
Mussel eradication is challenging and infestation can cause millions of dollars in damage, while officials must be particularly wary about the species potentially spreading throughout the Central Valley water system.
For more than six years, county water district officials have focused on the use of a substance called potassium chloride—known as potash—to kill them. It needs federal approval, however, so local leaders have been held up on the potash idea since May 2009.
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