Bennet Announces New Support for Bill to Help Colorado Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced his bill to slow the movement of aquatic invasive species (AIS), like zebra and quagga mussels, into Colorado and other Western States, has gained steam with new support from the Colorado Water Congress (CWC) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), and with testimony from Michael Preston, General Manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District (DWCD) in the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Water and Power hearing earlier this week. The House companion version of the bill, led by U.S. Representatives Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), was also introduced this week.

Bennet introduced S. 2975, the Stop the Spread of Invasive Mussels Act, with U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in December 2019.

“Colorado is one of the few headwater states still free of zebra and quagga mussels, but there’s an ever-present risk of infestation from neighboring states,” said Bennet. “We must continue to push the federal government to be a better partner to state and municipalities in their efforts to prevent the spread of invasive mussels into Colorado. I’m grateful for the growing support for this bill and look forward to continuing our efforts to move it forward.”

“If enacted, S. 2975 would provide needed assistance in slowing the movement of aquatic invasive species, like zebra and quagga mussels, into Colorado and other Western States…As invasive mussels spread across the West, preventative measures – like watercraft inspection and decontamination stations – are key to limiting their spread,” wrote Andy Colosimo, CWC Federal Affairs Committee Chair and Douglas Kemper, CWC Executive Director in a letter of support for the bill. “S. 2975 would provide states and municipalities the resources they need to keep watercraft inspection and decontamination stations up and running, and to prevent the spread of invasive mussels into Colorado’s water infrastructure systems.”

“The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) welcomes the opportunity to express our support for the Stop the Spread of Invasive Mussels Act of 2019 (S.2975), which takes important steps to help stop and reverse the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) – a top priority for the recreational boating industry,” wrote T. Nicole Vasilaros, Senior Vice President, Government and Legal Affairs at the National Marine Manufacturers Association in a letter of support. “Not only can AIS cause irreparable harm to boats, but AIS cause significant environmental, economic and public health effects. In fact, invasive mussels alone cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year. NMMA appreciates that this bill authorizes additional funding for watercraft inspection and decontamination stations – which are critically important to preventing the spread of AIS.”

“As mussel prevention activities expanded and become more stable in Colorado, we have turned our attention to the need to support mussel control inspections in neighboring states. McPhee Reservoir is a few hours from Lake Powell which is so badly infested, the dead shells cut the feet of those walking the beach and the iconic canyons have a “bathtub ring” of mussel shells clinging to the walls. ‘Hot boats’ coming out of Lake Powell and other States, without adequate mussel protections, are a large and growing threat to the entire State of Colorado, and other states that are trying to keep their reservoirs clean,” wrote Michael Preston, General Manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District in his testimony. “On behalf of water users in Colorado and the West, I urge passage by the United States Senate and the House of Representatives of the Stop the Spread of Mussels Act of 2019.”

Aquatic invasive species pose a significant threat to Western rivers and reservoirs. Once established, these intruders are nearly impossible to eradicate and wreak havoc on crucial water infrastructure, limit recreation opportunities, and harm fisheries, ecosystems, and local economies. As invasive mussels spread across the West, preventative measures – like watercraft inspection and decontamination stations – are key to limiting their spread. 

The Stop the Spread of Invasive Mussels Act would:

  • Strengthen prevention efforts by providing the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) explicit authority to partner with states and municipalities to fund watercraft inspection and decontamination stations;
  • Improve interagency cooperation, by providing all federal agencies who participate in the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force the same authorities to limit the movement of invasive species into and out of U.S. waters;
  • Ensure that all at-risk basins in the West are eligible and prioritized for watercraft inspection and decontamination funding. 

The bill text is available HERE and a section-by-section is available HERE.