Here in Wisconsin, we have a well-established set of effective prevention steps to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS): 1.) Inspect boats, trailers, and equipment; 2.) Remove all attached aquatic plants and animals; 3.) Drain all water from boats, vehicles, and equipment; 4.) Never Move plants or live fish away from a waterbody. However, there are some situations when additional precautions are recommended, these we call decontamination. In the fall of 2012, an ad-hoc committee of government and non-government staff was assembled to develop statewide guidance on when, where, and how to decontaminate water-related recreational equipment to help stop the spread of AIS. Research has shown that the first two prevention steps (Inspect and Remove) are effective in stopping the spread of aquatic plants, as long as everyone follows these steps. However, small AIS such as spiny waterflea (a zooplankton), didymo (an algae), and the free-floating larval stage of zebra mussels can be missed during a visual inspection. That is why it is best to follow up the prevention steps with a decontamination action.
Over the last few months the committee has discussed the science behind the decontamination techniques, the efforts being done for AIS decontamination within and outside of Wisconsin, the surface water resources of Wisconsin and the people using them. Now the committee is in the process of developing AIS decontamination guidelines for different water user groups based on their equipment and prioritizing the utilization of state and local resources dedicated to AIS decontamination. A draft of the guidelines will be presented to the public during the 2013 Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention (April 9th-11th).
Thanks to the efforts of the committee, we will soon know what extra cleaning steps can be taken to aid in stopping the spread of AIS into our loved lakes, rivers, and streams.