AUSTIN — New rules begin this week to protect Texas waterways against invasive zebra mussels.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission last month voted to make permanent emergency requirements for boaters to clean, dry and drain all watercraft before and after entering lakes and streams. The rules take effect today in 17 North Texas counties.

The “clean, dry and drain” rules apply to all public waters in Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Jack, Kaufman, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Stephens, Tarrant, Wise and Young counties.

Zebra mussels were first confirmed in Texas in Lake Texoma in 2009. The pesky creatures that can clog pipes and damage boat motors have since spread to several North Texas lakes. They’ve also been found in Belton Lake.

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