Protect Our Waters

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!

In order to manage and conserve our natural resources, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department enforces laws to protect our state waters against the introduction of exotic aquatic species. Fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants that are not native to Texas may compete with native animals and plants for food and space. Because introduced species lack natural enemies in their new environment, they can multiply and spread at an alarming rate, intefering with boat traffic, affecting water quality, and causing a range of other problems. For more information, visit

Zebra Mussels

Invasive zebra mussels have infested several Texas lakes. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has enacted new regulations to curb the spread of this dangerous pest. Boaters and anglers in some North and Central Texas counties are now required to drain all water from boats and onboard receptacles before leaving or approaching a public water body.

Clean Recreational Equipment

Exotics often travel from one water body to another by "hitching a ride" on a watercraft. To curb the spread of these invasive species, boaters in Texas are required by law to remove harmful plants and animals from boats and trailers before leaving the vicinity of a lake, river, or bay.

Giant salvinia clings to boat trailer Follow These Simple Steps

Remove all plants, animals, and mud and thoroughly wash everything, including crevices and other hidden areas.
Eliminate all water before leaving the area, including wells, ballast, and engine cooling water.
Allow time for your boat to completely dry before launching in other waters.

If your boat has been in infested waters for an extended period of time, or if you cannot perform the required steps above, you should have your boat professionally cleaned with high-pressure scalding hot water (>140°F) before transporting to any other body of water.

Clean Water Certification Program

The Clean Water Certification Program requires owners of boats with marine sanitation devices (MSDs) and owners of pump-out stations to obtain a decal, self-certifying that the MSD or pump-out station is operating properly to prevent the discharge of sewage into Texas waterways. The program is required under Texas law and is intended to protect and improve the quality of water in Texas. It is administered by the Texas Council on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

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