Riverside County Parks and Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) have announced a wetsuit safety protocol for triathlon events using Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, CA. The protocol is designed to eliminate the possibility of introducing the quagga mussel into Lake Cahuilla and the CVWD water system and will be in effect for the 2016 HITS Triathlon Series – Palm Springs that will take place on December 3-4, 2016.
Quagga mussels are freshwater mollusks capable of colonizing water bodies such as lakes, rivers, streams and water conveyance channels and pipes. Quagga mussels multiply rapidly, with females able to produce 1 million eggs per year. Microscopic larvae develop after fertilization, drifting in the water until finding a suitable place for attachment. Strong threads produced by the mussel attach the shell to most surfaces and often remain attached long after the mussel has died.
In order to ensure that quagga mussels are not unknowingly transported on athletes’ wetsuits, Riverside County Parks and CVWD will require that all wetsuits be immersed in a pool containing chlorine at a concentration of 2.0 ppm for at least 15 seconds before a race participant can enter Lake Cahuilla. Athletes who have completed this process will be issued a wrist band. Only athletes with wrist bands will be permitted in the lake.
Due to the number of athletes registered for the upcoming HITS Triathlon Event, executing the protocol will take several hours to accomplish prior to the event. The only way a participant can be assured of being able to complete the process and obtain a wrist band is if they arrive on the day prior to their race, check-in and complete the process. Unfortunately, no one arriving on the day of their race can be assured of being able to complete the process and therefore may not be able to race.
Protecting Lake Cahuilla from the invasive quagga mussel is important to the entire Coachella Valley and to the continued ability to use the Lake Cahuilla for recreational purposes, including the popular HITS Triathlon Series – Palm Springs event.
For more information on the Quagga mussel - click here.