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Colorado lake bans trailered powerboats

Standley-Lake

The city of Westminster, Colo., has banned trailered powerboats on Standley Lake because of increased concerns about zebra and quagga mussels, two of the most prolific aquatic invasive species.

“We do test any time we have access to the lake and the last test was October,” Jason Genck, director of parks, recreation and libraries for the city of Westminster, told Trade Only Today. “We did not see any evidence of zebra mussels.”

The lake is the water source for 300,000 residents of Westminster, Northglenn and Thornton, Colo., but the city of Westminster is 100 percent liable and accountable for recreational boating on the lake, Genck explained. So if there was an infestation, Westminster would be on the hook for removal costs, which can get expensive.

Standley Lake is a nature preserve so there are no homes on the body of water. Boaters who trailer in are required to undergo a 35-day quarantine after purchasing a permit and boats are sprayed down with a pressure washer before entering the water.

“We do spray every single thing that touches the water of Standley Lake,” said Genck. “You bring in a stand up paddleboard, it’s sprayed.”

The reason for the ban is that research showed that previous precautions weren’t enough to guarantee that aquatic invasive species weren’t being brought to the lake. “We’ve been having what we thought was the most robust quarantine methods in the state and in fact, the reason we had to stop selling permits so abruptly was that we’re nowhere near what we thought we were doing,” said Genck.

The city’s public works and utilities department director Max Kirschbaum also said that boaters were circumventing the city’s protective measures. A statement on the city of Westminster website reads, “Boat launch data for 2018 also found multiple instances of Standley Lake boaters deliberately bypassing protective measures.” The statement added that a review of boat launch data for the lake in 2018 found up to 24 instances of boaters launching their boats on other lakes and then launching on Standley Lake soon after.

“When we did the cross-referencing and found how many boats were touching other bodies of water, it was disheartening,” said Genck.

Genck said that 475 permits were sold in 2018, which doesn’t sound like much, but more than 70,000 people were recorded having gone through the lake’s gates. For 2019, all permits issued to owners of powerboats have been canceled but manually powered craft will still be allowed and have to go through the decontamination process.

The city started its decontamination program in 2007. After learning that zebra and quagga mussels could survive in a wakesports boat ballast tank for 27 days, the 35-day quarantine for boats being used on the lake was introduced in 2013.

As far as public response, Genck said he’s heard both pro and con. “The pushback has been, ‘If it’s not there, why would you shut it down,’” he said. “We’ve also received a fair amount of ‘I can’t believe you haven’t done that sooner.’” 

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