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Growing concerns over invasive species making its way to Alberta

WATCH ABOVE: The province is warning the public to be on the look-out for zebra mussels. Eric Szeto explains why.

EDMONTON – The province is warning the public to be wary of zebra mussels, an invasive species that’s already spread throughout much of the U.S. and parts of Canada.

Most recently, officials in Manitoba had to close off a section of Lake Winnipeg and inject liquid potash into the water to kill off the zebra mussel population there. In Saskatchewan, measures are being taken to check boats. In B.C. there have been some recent scares, as well.

To keep the species from infesting Alberta, the province wants people to be vigilant when taking their boats out, as zebra mussels tend to cling to boats, and trailers, and can live out of the water for up to a month.

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People are advised to clean and inspect their boats, soak gear in bleach water, and also drain and dry off equipment.

Once zebra mussels make their way into waterways or lakes, they multiply fast and can be very difficult to eradicate. The damage they cause can also be quite costly.

“By some estimates if we had those mussels in this province, it could cost us up to $75 million a year…a pretty significant impact,” said Katrina Bluetchen of Alberta Environment Sustainable Resource Development.

Zebra mussels are said to clog water pipes, create algae and destroy habitats.

“It impacts everything from our drinking water infrastructure to our agricultural infrastructure; and not only that, but just the recreational quality of our lakes,” Bluetchen stressed.

Boaters in Saskatchewan are being urged to prevent stowaways from entering the province's lakes and waterways this summer.
Close-up of zebra mussels, 1990. (Photo by Peter Yates/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images). Peter Yates / Getty Images
In this July 6, 2009 file photo, invasive quagga mussels cover this formerly sunken boat at Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nev. Although not yet in Saskatchewan, the zebra mussel and the related quagga mussel could soon pose a threat to provincial lakes and rivers.
In this July 6, 2009 file photo, invasive quagga mussels cover this formerly sunken boat at Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nev. Although not yet in Saskatchewan, the zebra mussel and the related quagga mussel could soon pose a threat to provincial lakes and rivers. AP Photo / Felicia Fonseca, File
zebra mussels
This September 23, 2011 photo shows Zebra mussels near Kingston, Canada, which have invaded Lake Ontario. Zebra mussels from the Caspian Sea, introduced to North America by accident, are becoming a veritable plague releasing toxic chemicals into the Great Lakes, Canadian biologists say. The mussels hitch-hiked to Canada on the ballasts of cargo ships arriving on the continent in 1986. And in the past two decades the thumbnail-sized creatures have spread and are found in more than a third of the Great Lakes. AFP PHOTO / Kilian FICHOU (Photo credit should read Kilian FICHOU/AFP/Getty Images). Kilian Fichou / AFP / Getty Images
In a photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a group of zebra mussels, taken from Lake Erie, are seen in an undated photo. They are small clam-like creatures that seem to spread in the blink of an eye and squeeze the life out of the rivers and lakes they inhabit.
In a photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a group of zebra mussels, taken from Lake Erie, are seen in an undated photo. They are small clam-like creatures that seem to spread in the blink of an eye and squeeze the life out of the rivers and lakes they inhabit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Zebra mussels originate from eastern Europe. They were first discovered in North America in the 1980s.

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With files from Eric Szeto, Global News