Hopefully quagga or zebra mussels never make it to the Columbia

Hopefully quagga or zebra mussels never make it to the Columbia
The Columbia River Gorge as seen from Dog Mountain, approximately 15 miles upstream from the Bonneville Dam. File photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Researchers from Portland State University say the Columbia River has suitable conditions for invasive freshwater mussels to grow if they get a toehold.

The researchers told the Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Thursday that the water chemistry and temperatures are suitable for quagga and zebra mussels to grow if they get introduced.

The Willamette River is marginal due to lower calcium levels. The researchers are also experimenting with paints that would make it tougher for the mussels to form thick crusty mats on submerged surfaces.

The mussels have wreaked havoc on docks, dams, and freshwater ecosystems from the Great Lakes to the Southwest, but so far have not invaded the Northwest.

Oregon and other states inspect boats crossing their borders to prevent an invasion.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.