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Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention and Early Detection

Aquatic organisms like the spiny water flea, hydrilla, and zebra mussel have the potential to negatively impact water quality, limit recreation opportunities, and increase the cost of delivering clean drinking water. These species and others have been spreading throughout New York State and have had some serious consequences. Their presence has been linked with harmful algal blooms, clogged intake pipes and lower numbers of sport fish in the water bodies they have invaded.

Here are some of the projects DEP is engaged in to prevent invasive species like these from making their way into our reservoirs and detecting them early if they do arrive:

Steam Cleaning Protocols

Prevention Technique

Since 1992 DEP has had a protocol in place mandating that all boats that are entering the water supply be steam cleaned. This applies to every vessel from our own water quality monitoring boats and construction barges to fishing row boats and recreational kayaks. Cleaning the inside and out of a boat with water that is over 140 °F ensures that no invasive species will be able to hitch a ride into our water supply.

Catskill Watershed Stewards Program

Prevention Technique

DEP is partnering with the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership and SUNY Oneonta’s Biological Field Station to post stewards at popular boat launches on the four Catskills reservoirs that are currently open to recreational boating: Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton, and Schoharie. Interns from SUNY Ulster Community College and volunteers are greeting boaters and discussing invasive species spread prevention techniques with them as the stewards inspect boats and gear for hitchhiking plants and animals.

To learn more about aquatic invasive species spread prevention visit:

To learn more about the DEP’s recreational boating program visit the Expanded Recreational Boating Program page.

Boat Launch Area Surveys

Early Detection Technique

In the summer of 2013 DEP staff is surveying the boat launch sites on the Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton and Schoharie Reservoirs for invasive species that may have inadvertently come in on recreation boats or gear. Biologists will snorkel throughout the boat launch areas surveying the bottom for plants and animals that don’t belong while the DEP police dive team checks on deeper areas of the reservoirs.

Aquatic Invasive Species Surveys

Early Detection Technique

DEP is partnering with SUNY Oneonta to conduct extensive surveys of all of the aquatic invasive species that have made their way into the reservoirs and tributary streams that make up the water supply. Scientists will use traditional survey techniques as well as cutting-edge environmental DNA sampling methods to gather information on species ranging from the New Zealand mud snail to Eurasian watermilfoil.

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