ZEBRA MUSSELS: Removal product research on Lake Minnetonka - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

ZEBRA MUSSELS: Removal product research on Lake Minnetonka

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Flickr/Creative Commons/Andres Musta Flickr/Creative Commons/Andres Musta

Many Minnesotans may not be keen to spend a lot of time on the state's 10,000 lakes during the subzero chill, but a scientist may have some good news when it comes to addressing an invasive pest.

Dr. Daniel Molloy is a scientist who believes he may have come up with a way to control zebra mussels, an unwelcome and ecologically destructive species that has hitch-hiked to many Minnesota waterways.

"People have gotten cut on their feet," Gary Montz said.

In 2011, Molloy came to Minnesota to take a look at the zebra mussel population. According to Molloy, there's nothing on the market that can kill all the zebra mussels in an entire body of water, but he hopes he has found a solution that can target specific areas of lakes and rivers.

The product in question is called Zequanox, and it is a dead bacteria that kills zebra mussels that eat it. Currently, the product research is taking place on Lake Minnetonka.

"It's like a big cylinder hey put in the water," Montz explained. "They have zebra mussels in it and they can put the Zequanox in there and get a really good idea of what's happening to the zebra mussels when they apply it."

A lot of unknowns remain -- including how well Zequanox can work in big spaces.

"The jury is still out on whether this could be applied on a lake-wide basis," Montz conceded.

Molloy told Fox 9 News Zequanox likely won't be used for eliminating zebra mussels. Instead, he believes it could be used for population control.

"When applied to small areas and bays where economically affordable, clean off a beach of zebra mussels, protect dock structures from infestation -- so, on a small scale, I see it being used," he said.

Yet, the biggest benefit may be that the product is not chemical-based.

"In certain circumstances, it gives us a tool that we have not had before -- something that is very safe for the environment that will kill zebra mussels and not kill other life," Montz said.

Zequanox is currently approved for use in power plants and factories to keep zebra mussels from clogging pipes, but it has yet to be approved for open water. Molloy hopes that will happen in the next 12 months, and he plans to create a product that will eliminate the invasive pest from all lakes and rivers next.

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