These little invaders are just going to keep causing headaches. Ugh! How can one tiny thing ruin an ecosystem? Well, pretty quickly it seems.
More trouble ahead due to Zebra Mussels
The Zebra Mussels species was native to lakes in southern Russia and Ukraine. Then they accidentally spread into other areas and whammo! By the late 1980’s they were discovered in the Great Lakes.
According to LCRA, Zebra Mussels were first seen in Lake Travis in 2017. They were discovered in Lake Austin shortly after that. The larvae are microscopic, so they can easily be transported unbeknownst to anyone. By August of 2017, the word “invasion” was being used to describe the devastating discovery.
Now we’re all well-versed in the lingo because Zebra Mussels are causing all of the big problems we were so worried about. Austin Water is still recuperating from the horrible stinky water fiasco caused by dead zebra mussels. In late January, Austin Water employees drained a 1,000-foot-long, 6-foot-wide intake pipe at Ullrich so they could install a water surge protector.
As the Statesman reported, Austin Water officials knew divers had spotted zebra mussels where water is drawn into the Ullrich facility. The project lasted two weeks, and many of the mussels caked on the inside of the pipe died. Ewww. And they knew this and put it back anyway, without cleaning it. Double ewwww.
Austinites started reporting the funky smelling water, and as the story unfolded, Zebra Mussels were indeed the problem. Austin Water tried to fix the problem by adding an activated carbon solution, but that only made matters worse. The systems had to be flushed to get rid of the foul, stinky water.
Here’s the big problem, which makes us think we’ll be hearing a lot more about this. The infestation inside Austin Water’s intake pipes is still a mystery. They have some pipes that are more than 4,000 feet long that they haven’t explored. It’s too dangerous for divers.
Luckily for folks in Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, and Lakeway, stinky water hasn’t been a thing. Well, maybe just a hint of wet dog, but that’s pretty normal.
Local students raise service puppies
Some lucky students (AKA Puppy Raisers) at Wimberly High School and Dripping Springs High School are getting acquainted with some special friends. Puppies! These cute, furry friends are part of an initiative by a local non-profit called Freedom Canines International (FCI). The goal of this organization is for high school students to raise, socialize and train these Labrador puppies over the next 18 months.
As the puppies get bigger, they will transition out of the classroom and start navigating the crowded high school halls with their handlers. Eventually, these playful pups will become service dogs — specifically, diabetic alert dogs. You can follow their progress on the FCI Facebook page.
A bigger & better bridge
Remember that scary moment during the flood when the bridge in Kingsland crumbled?
Well, for months, they’ve been working tirelessly in Kingsland to rebuild bridge 2900. TxDOT officials expect the construction of the bridge to be completed by April — five months after construction began.
Construction crews have been dealing with obstacles since construction began, including debris below the lake’s bed surface and the recent drawdown of Lake LBJ water levels by the Lower Colorado River Authority that affected barge movements.
The new bridge will be wider and higher consisting of 12-foot travel lanes, 6-foot shoulders, and a 6-foot sidewalk. These improvements will make the RM 2900 bridge five feet higher than the previous one.
Are you wondering what’s happening in the Lake Travis area? If you have questions about new construction or local stories, let us know in the comments section on our Facebook page.