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FirstLight finds first invasive zebra mussel in Candlewood Lake

FirstLight Power has reported that a single juvenile zebra mussel was found in Candlewood Lake, at a depth of 13 feet off the southern tip of Vaughn’s Neck.  It was found by FirstLight’s consultant who was hired to conduct their annual zebra mussel monitoring program. Ten sites are searched annually. 

The zebra mussel was removed and it is not believed to be of reproductive age. No other zebra mussels were found at the other nine sites on Candlewood. 

More than a decade ago, zebra mussels were discovered in the Housatonic River, coming from a lake in Western Massachusetts.  Water entering Candlewood benefited must be pumped up from the river so FirstLight has now voluntarily decided to not pump when the water reaches the temperature the mussels need to reproduce.

The Candlewood Lake Authority says it's not yet known if it's a solitary occurrence or if more are hiding in areas that haven’t been searched.  FirstLight, the CLA and DEEP are working with other organizations to identify and prevent any other invasive plants and animals from entering the Lake. Zebra mussels can quickly take over ecosystems and change the dynamics of entire bodies of water. 

The Candlewood Lake Authority is working with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, FirstLight and the surrounding municipalities to expand invasive species monitoring programs to include additional sampling locations for zebra mussel larvae and the continued deployment of underwater monitoring stations. 

One of the major ways invasive species like zebra mussels enter the lake is attached to boats. 

The CLA is reminding users to clean, drain and dry boats, trailers and equipment to help prevent the introduction of invasive species like this one.  Cleaning also applies to the outboard motor, car wheel wells, and anywhere else that these species might be hiding.  Signs are up at boat launches on Candlewood with that message, and DEEP “Boating Education Assistants” are stationed at state boat launches.  They will inspect boats and educate boaters on the best ways to help stop invasive species spread.

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