Lake Berryessa Boater Outreach Program Report: Summer 2017

The Lake Berryessa Boater Outreach (LBBO) program focuses on educational outreach and invasive species prevention at Lake Berryessa. Lake Berryessa provides drinking water for more than 500,000 people in Solano County and is used by the Jelly Belly Factory and Anheuser-Busch for their products. The 2017 LBBO program was active from April to September. Throughout the season, LBBO interns conducted watercraft screenings for invasive mussels and educated boaters and recreational users. Sixteen student interns staffed six boat launches.

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The high water levels brought many visitors from different counties to check out the Glory Hole and the rest of Lake Berryessa. In order to track and analyze the effectiveness of outreach efforts, LBBO interns gathered data and provided weekly summaries to partner agencies and stakeholders. LBBO interns also participated in community volunteer cleanup events throughout the summer, including World Environment Day and California Coastal Cleanup Day. 

LBWP Interns 2017

Back from left to right: Alessandro Schiavone, Lydia Kenison, Jo Black, Edward Blong- Her, and Qiming Yang. 

Middle from left to right: Christopher Zaleski, Sierra Lissick, Mary Capcap, Angie Flores, Kyrie Aragon. 

Front from left toright: Kevin Young-Lai (Supervisor), Gustavo Cruz (Supervisor), Kasey Chohan, and Olivia Hart. 

Insets:  Scott Navarro (Supervisor) and Sarah Day.

Invasive Mussel Inspection Program

The primary goal of the LBBO program is to prevent the introduction of invasive mussels into Lake Berryessa. Invasive species are transported from one body of water to another through boats and other watercraft. LBBO interns screened watercraft both visually and through boater surveys. Interns staffed all boat launch sites at Lake Berryessa seven days a week from June-September - the peak boating season. 

In addition to screening boats and other watercraft, interns educated boaters on preventing the spread of invasive species, as well as the ecological, economic, and recreational impacts that the introduction of invasive mussels would cause Lake Berryessa, the surrounding community, and beyond. The vast majority of boaters were not only amenable to the screening process, but also supportive of the program.

Program Achievements

Screenings increased by 54% from 2016 and by 82% from 2015: 16,799 watercraft screened in 2017; 10,860 watercraft screened in 2016; 9,197 watercraft screened in 2015. 

Eight potentially infested watercraft were prevented from launching this year. Such watercraft launched in infested bodies of water in the past thirty days without sufficient dry time to eliminate risk of transmitting invasive mussels to Lake Berryessa.

As part of the invasive screening process, interns collected the following data: time of the screening, the boater’s home zip code, and the last body of water the boat had launched. This data helps the LBBO program understand the efficacy of the invasive screenings as well as to strategize better protection of Lake Berryessa in the future. 

Home County Data Analysis

Protecting Lake Berryessa from invasive mussels also requires knowledge of the geographic region from which boaters are coming and how many are coming from each region. As part of the invasive screening process, each boater’s zip code is collected and corresponds to their county of residence. 

The population that most frequently uses Lake Berryessa for recreational boating is also dependent on it for drinking water, and would be the most personally affected by an infestation of invasive mussels. Of the Solano County boaters that visited Lake Berryessa, more than 41% came from Vacaville and more than 26% came from Fairfield. 

Contra Costa and Napa are also major counties of origin for Lake Berryessa boaters with 21% and 13%,  respectively. Although residents of Contra Costa, Napa and other counties are not reliant on Lake Berryessa for drinking water, it is still critical to engage them in education and outreach for the sake of Solano County’s principle water source and their own local reservoirs that could be affected by an invasive mussel infestation.

Hydrologic Region Data Analysis

The most critical data collected during the invasive screening process is information on where a boat last launched. By recognizing launch patterns of boaters and determining which hydrologic regions are most popular, we can better assess and prepare for the risk Lake Berryessa would face if a nearby region became infested with invasive mussels. 

76% of boaters screened reported to have last launched at Lake Berryessa. Other commonly reported places of most recent launch are within the Sacramento River hydrologic region or the San Joaquin hydrologic region, neither of which currently contain any infested bodies of water with invasive mussels.

After Lake Berryessa, the most common recent launch locations were the California Delta (95), Lake Shasta (68), Lake Tahoe (67), Clear Lake (52,) Lake Sonoma (41), Sacramento River (36), Camanche Reservoir (36) and Folsom Lake (35).

Conclusion

The main goal of the Lake Berryessa Boater Outreach Program is to protect the drinking water source for nearly 500,000 residents of Solano County through invasive screenings, cleanup events, and educational efforts.

The 2017 LBBO Program was successful in screening a record number of boats for invasive species and educating over 3,400 visitors about the importance of keeping Lake Berryessa clean. 

Interns hope that visitors were inspired to help keep  Lake Berryessa cleaner than when they arrived so that the lake continues to be one of the cleanest reservoirs in the state of California. The chart below shows the results of the program for the last five years.

Outreach Program Achievements

 2,377 people were educated with boater surveys

1,115 boater surveys given: Of the 1,115 boats surveyed, 82% were inboard or inboard/outboard (eligible for bilge pad installation) and 41% of those eligible boaters installed a bilge pads

372 bilge pad installations prompted by surveys

41% of eligible boaters installed bilge pads (based on rates of Inboard/Outboard boats)

606 additional bilge pads distributed

 Boater Kits and Premiums

 All boaters who completed a survey received a tote bag filled with a boater kit.

Highlights of the boater kit included a bilge pad to keep oil and fuel contaminants from leaving bilge compartments, a fuel bib to eliminate spilled gasoline while refueling, and a West Marine coupon for 15% off a purchase. Also included in the kits are booklets about California boating and environmental laws as well as educational materials regarding zebra and quagga mussels. Boater kits were generously provided by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways and the California Coastal Commission.

Conclusion

The main goal of the Lake Berryessa Boater Outreach Program is to protect the drinking water source for nearly 500,000 residents of Solano County through invasive screenings, cleanup events, and educational efforts. The 2017 LBBO Program was successful in screening a record number of boats for invasive species and educating over 3,400 visitors about the importance of keeping Lake Berryessa clean. Interns hope that visitors were inspired to help keep the water and shores of Lake Berryessa cleaner than when they arrived so that the lake continues to be one of the cleanest reservoirs in the state of California.

The Lake Berryessa Boater Outreach Program is managed by the Lake Berryessa Watershed Partnership which includes the Solano County Water Agency, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Solano Resource Conservation District. It also includes representatives from Solano and Napa Counties as well as a range of local agencies in collaboration whose goal is to keep Lake Berryessa’s water safe and clean.

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pkilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2017