Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet secured a provision to protect Colorado’s watersheds from invasive species in the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which passed the Senate today 99-1.
“Aquatic invasive species pose a serious threat to headwater states like Colorado—damaging water infrastructure and harming ecosystems,” said Bennet. “Colorado is one of the few states without an invasive mussel infestation. Additional inspection stations will bolster our state’s efforts to prevent an infestation and protect local economies.”
The provision directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish, operate, and maintain new or existing watercraft inspection stations to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in the Upper Colorado River Basin, South Platte River Basin, and Arkansas River Basin. The provision also authorizes the Army Corps to assist states with rapid response efforts in the case of an infestation of quagga or zebra mussels.
Following the August 2017 detection of invasive quagga mussel larvae in the Green Mountain Reservoir, Bennet led the Colorado delegation in sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging a rapid response. In 2016, Bennet secured a provision in the WRDA reauthorization process that similarly would have expanded the Army Corps watercraft inspection station authorities, but it was not included in the final legislation. In 2010, Bennet introduced the Invasive Species Emergency Response Fund Act to establish a loan fund for Western states to combat invasive species.
Statements of Support:
“This is a positive step forward to protect our nation's headwaters against zebra and quagga mussels and other harmful invaders,” said Bob Broschied, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Federal and state partnerships are critical to maintain Colorado's aggressive invasive species prevention program. We are very grateful to Senator Bennet for his support of Colorado's Aquatic Nuisance Species program, and for his actions which are helping to facilitate solutions that will benefit our state.”
“The spread of quagga and zebra mussels across the country and throughout our nation's water storage and delivery infrastructure is alarming," said Andy Mueller, General Manager of the Colorado River District in Western Colorado. “This provision comes at an important time and will help to bolster state-led efforts to inspect and prevent mussel infestations in Colorado’s waterways. I want to thank Senator Bennet for his leadership and success on this important issue.”
“Army Corps of Engineers Reservoirs on the Front Range, such as Chatfield, have the highest boat traffic in the State,” said Mike Preston, General Manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District. “Authorizing the Corps to participate in funding invasive mussel inspections is a great step forward, given the loss of severance tax revenues as a funding source. Colorado remains uninfected by mussels at a time when Kansas lakes are becoming badly infected. McPhee Reservoir, operated by the Dolores Water Conservancy District, faces the threat of a badly infected Lake Powell. It only takes one infected boat to infect a lake. This provision is an important step forward in bringing federal resources to bear on this urgent problem. Senator Bennet has done a great job of keeping federal agencies at the table including the advancement of this provision.”