Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Monitoring

The AWSA is continuing to assist the Ministry of Environment with monitoring lakes within its watershed district for aquatic invasive species (AIS) in 2021.

What is an AIS?

Aquatic Invasive Species are plants and animals that live in water and invade ecosystems beyond their natural, historical range. Their presence may harm native ecosystems, agriculture, commercial, or recreational activities.

AIS are usually spread through the water, and from one water body to another, by attaching to watercraft, trailers and related aquatic equipment. AIS such as zebra and quagga mussels pose a serious threat to Saskatchewan's lakes and waterways. These small but destructive mussels have been discovered in Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and 34 states, including Montana and North Dakota.

Why do we not want Zebra/Quagga Mussels in Saskatchewan?

  • They reproduce rapidly. One Zebra Mussel can produce 40,000 eggs each time, up to four times a season! This means that one Zebra Mussel can produce over 1,000,000 a year!

  • They do not eat blue-green algae, resulting in toxic blooms

  • They eat up the lowest link in the food chain, which disrupts the complex web

  • One Zebra Mussel can filter up to 1 Liter of water a day! The water may seem clearer, but in reality they redistribute the nutrients to the bottom of the lake

  • Having clearer water allows sunlight to penetrate further into the water creating more vegetation which can hinder recreational activities

  • Upon death, the decaying shells build up on beaches. The sharp shells are a safety hazard and the foul smell deters recreational activities

  • Zebra Mussels attach to hard surfaces and build on top of each other, which can clog water intake structures/facilities, boat motors, and ballast tanks. They have even sunk navigational buoys before!

  • Once attached, Zebra Mussels do not detach. To remove the shells one must chisel them away

The Adult Invasive Mussel Monitoring (AIMM) program is a partnership between Saskatchewan Watershed Stewardship Groups (WSGs) and other agencies to detect unwanted aquatic invasive mussels in the province. WSGs like the AWSA have also been sampling lakes for mussel veligers. Veligers are the free-swimming larval form of adult Zebra and Quagga mussels. The earlier we can detect the presence or absence of these unwanted pests the better!

The AWSA samples the following water bodies for veligers:

  • Fishing Lake

  • Whitesand River Reservoir

  • Good Spirit Lake

  • Madge Lake

  • Batka Lake

  • Jackfish Lake

  • Lake of the Prairies

  • Moosomin Reservoir

To date, all samples have come back negative across the province; let's hope it stay that way long into the future!