One of the many great things about living is New England is our drinking water.
Turn on the tap, out it comes: mostly pure, mostly (blessedly) taste-free, mostly (nearly) cost-free.
So I was moderately disturbed to see on Boston.com the other day that Quabbin Reservoir, the source of Boston's finest - our tap water - is in danger of being invaded by a ghastly little sucker with the friendly little moniker of zebra mussel. Thar she blows - thanks to a picture that I found on the Lower Colorado River Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force site. (Aquatic Nuisance Species. Enough said.)
Sure, it looks like something that you might pick up on the beach and save (as long as the mussel had exited the shell) - awww, it's so purdy - but:
The menacing zebra mussel species that has taken over a Berkshires lake has been found in a stream that feeds into the Housatonic River in Western Massachusetts, amplifying fears that the invasive freshwater mollusk could contaminate drinking water supplies and other waterways throughout the state.
What exactly can the zebra mussel do? Well, it can:
...wipe out native aquatic life, clog water intake pipes, and foul drinking water supplies.
It's been on the march in the US since the late 1980's. Or, rather, on the "cling" - it gets around attached to the bottom of boats, and it reached these shores, I gather, via the St. Lawrence Seaway. On the bottom or in the ballast water of some freighter or the other that had gotten infected in the Black or Caspian sea.
They couldn't win through economic, military, or moral superiority, so they sabotage us with the zebra mollusk.
They don't call them the Evil Empire for nothing.
And all we've done to get back at them is introduce McDonald's, blue jeans, and jazz. Talk about a trade imbalance.
W may have looked in Putin's eyes and seen his soul, but if he looked again, I bet he'd see zebra mussels.
What Massachusetts is doing to keep the mussel from spreading to Quabbin (our Quabbin! our beautiful Quabbin!) is to ban recreational boating. So that folks can keep fishing on Quabbin:
The Department of Conservation and Recreation will maintain a rental boat fleet at the reservoir, allowing some sort of boating and fishing to continue. But the private boat ramps at the reservoir will remain closed for at least 45 days, until the state can design a way to regulate private boating and make sure all boats that enter the water are cleansed.
I am quite happy to see this ban enacted - but I'm a little concerned. It's exceedingly easy for me to imagine some half-in-the-bag goofballs deciding that the ban doesn't really apply to them, that their boat is clean as a whistle...And away we'll go.
The Quabbin, fortunately, may not have the same biochemical makeup that would make it a receptive host for the zebra mussel. Still...
"The Quabbin is pretty close to our last wilderness in Massachusetts and I think we should keep it that way,’’ said Paul Godfrey, a member of the Friends of Quabbin Inc., a nonprofit group. ‘‘Zebra mussels are an incredible threat to that place. They tend to clog up pipes, and there are a lot of them — all the way to Boston.’’
The Quabbin Reservoir is quite beautiful, and I would really hate to see harm come to it.
Last winter, it was feral hogs rampaging through the country.
What's the f next?