03/30/2016 19:23 EDT | Updated 03/31/2017 01:12 EDT

B.C. boosts program to keep out invasive mussels that can cling to boats

KELOWNA, B.C. — British Columbia is adding eight inspection stations at major waterways to prevent the entry of invasive mussels that could threaten salmon populations, infrastructure and drinking water.

Premier Christy Clark says the enhancement follows a pilot project to defend the province from zebra and quagga mussels.

Clark says the mussels have never been detected in B.C. and that the existing program will be boosted with $2 million in funding from BC Hydro, FortisBC, Columbia Power and Columbia Basin Trust.

The small freshwater mussels, which are native to Europe and were introduced into North America in the 1980s, can attach themselves to boat hulls, trailers, equipment and vegetation and are difficult to eradicate.

BC Hydro vice-president Mark Poweska says the mussels can also threaten the production of power by plugging pipes and equipment in dams.

Five of the inspection stations will be set up along the B.C.-Alberta border and three will be established at the U.S. border from April to October to keep out the mussels, which have spread in Ontario and Quebec and are found in at least 24 American states.


The Canadian Press