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Zebra mussels are choking intake lines to Council Grove, KS’s water tower forcing city leaders to ask residents to cut back on water use.

“Throughout the complete inside of the water tower, on the valves, the stems that operate the valves, there are platforms about an inch and a half thick and I mean solid,” said City Administrator Danny Matthews. “There is no space that is untouched by these zebra mussels.”

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Normally the intake line from the city lake can pump 775 gallons per minute of water into the treatment plant. The flow is now less than 200 gallons per minute.

As a temporary measure, pumps borrowed from the fire department are bringing in water from the Neosho River.

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Until they find a solution to rid themselves of these pesky mollusks, residents should conserve and not water their lawns or wash their cars. Residents should still use water for the normal drinking, cooking, and bathing.

“We definitely want you watering your animals, we definitely want you taking care of yourself,” said Matthews. “The water is perfectly safe to drink. We don’t have any issues with quality at this time.”

In spite of an intensive education campaign, officials first spotted the zebra mussels in the city lake last year. Officials believe the mild winter helped spur rapid reproduction of the invasive species.

The city hopes to have the water tower filled by midnight Friday night. They’ll then turn their attention toward unclogging the lines. Dive teams will chip away at the mussels.

In the meantime, the city plans to use older lines to feed water to the tower until they clear the intake from the lake.

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