Potash, or potassium chloride, is a type of salt, said San Benito County Water District Manager Jeff Cattaneo.
"It's the same thing if you went to the store and bought salt substitute," he
The application of potash to zebra mussels disrupts the creatures' ability to filter feed and takes from a week to two weeks to be effective, Cattaneo
said, adding that the amount left in the water after the treatment "would be equivalent to the amount of potassium you'd get in a banana."
"There are red-legged frogs and tiger salamanders in the area, so any activity we engage in has to be evaluated for the risk to any of those species," Cattaneo
"We're hoping that we're going to get the permit from the state Environmental Protection Agency for the application of the potash to control mussels in the next 30 to 60 days.
Then we'll move forward with the Bureau of Reclamation
and the fish and wildlife service to get a permit for them to do the application."
If the approval is not gained by September, "we probably won't be able to do the treatment this year because we won't be able to do the water draw-down process to get the reservoir at a point where we can do the application of potash in the winter when water demand is the lowest," Cattaneo
"It has created a lot of concern for the folks that use the reservoir, but those critters getting out of the reservoir would be devastating to the state," Cattaneo
"There's an unbelievable population explosion right now [in San Justo].
The conditions for them are perfect; the water temperature is right and the oxygen content is just right."
While the mussels are flourishing, Cattaneo
said "there is no indication that they are spreading" beyond the reservoir.
"That's the reason for limiting public access - to minimize them being transported" by attaching themselves to boats that might visit other waterways, he
"We have no reason to believe that we won't be successful," Cattaneo
"If we don't get rid of them, we'll come up with a different management strategy."
Completely draining the reservoir is not an option, he
said, because there would still be a "dead pool" of water - an amount that cannot be drained out, "and you'd still be stuck with having to apply potash regardless of how much you'd drain the water down."
Having the reservoir closed for a year and a half is not a total surprise to Cattaneo
, who said, "I don't think anybody realized how complex the problem was and how many environmental laws have to be satisfied before we go forward with the project."The surrounding neighborhood has an eclectic mix of architecture styles that include everything from Pioneer style, Gothic revival, Craftsman bungalow and Mediterranean revival, among others.