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High Risk Ballast Waters, Testing of efficacy of hydrated lime and sodium hydroxide biocide treatments on selected target invertebrates


January 2012 - December 2013


The National Park Service (NPS) has identified a need for methods that can be used to
protect the integrity of natural systems from invasive species. Of particular concern is
the release of organisms in residues and within the ballast of shipping tanks in the Great
Lakes. These studies are part of a multidisciplinary team effort in the US Geological
Survey (USGS) to test the efficacy and safety of using high pH treatments as a rapid and
easily reversible treatment to kill invertebrates and other target organisms. Our studies
are the direct result of a successful bench scale testing of a treatment proposed by Dr.
Barnaby Watten and colleagues at the US Geological Survey’s Leetown Science Center.
The Great Lakes Initiative (GSI) conducted bench-scale tests of the efficacy of elevated
pH in sodium hydroxide treated water and concluded pH levels of 11.5 to 12.5 were
effective in killing rotifers, daphnia, and copepods within 4 hours of exposure (Ten Eyck
Studies detailed in this proposal will develop laboratory tests to determine appropriate
protocols of dosage, and exposure time to achieve complete mortality of selected more
resistant invertebrate species including crustaceans, bivale and prosobranch mollusks,
and resistant myxospores, or other propogules in both hydrated lime and sodium
hydroxide treated systems. Upon determination of appropriate model species, we will
test and refine protocols for testing in laboratory trials. Using an adaptive approach, we
will design appropriate procedures and experimental designs for scaled up for trials on
board the Ranger III to establish efficacy in field applications of ballast tanks. We will
then conduct a minimum of three shipboard field trials to determine the efficacy and
feasibility of hydrated lime and/or sodium hydroxide as treatments to disinfect ship
ballast systems. If successful this application will provide an inexpensive and effective
method for treating ballast systems to assure that no harmful species are released into the
This project responds to the NPS priority research needs for development of emergency
ballast treatment options to prevent the spread of critical high risk aquatic nuisance
species and fish diseases. Over 60% of the introductions of nuisance /invasive species
are attributed to ballast water discharges. This research will test tools that can be used to
rapidly decontaminate ballast systems with hydrated lime and/or sodium hydroxid, and
then rapidly neutralize the solution to assure no environmental effects of the treatment
solution. The focus of the research at the University of Idaho Cooperative Fish and
Wildlife Research Unit will be to selecting appropriate highly resistant model
invertebrate species for testing, and developing efficacious dosing protocols to determine the appropriate dosage and duration to provide complete mortality. The final phase of
studies will be to design and conduct field trials with the model test organisms in ballast
systems on board a research ship. The research will be part of the training for a master’s
student at the University of Idaho.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Moffitt, C.M., A. Barenberg, K. A. Stockton, and B. J. Watten. 2014. Efficacy of two approaches for disinfecting surfaces and water infested with quagga mussel veligers. Chapter 30 in W. H. Wong and S. Gerstenberger, editors. Biology and management of invasive quagga and zebra mussels in the Western United States.CRC Press. Florida. Abstract |  Download  | 


  • Barenberg, A., C. M. Moffitt, and B. J. Watten. 2013. Elevated pH as a disinfection tool against three invasive mollusks of concern. Washington and Oregon Association of Lake Managers Annual Meeting. Wenatchee, WA.
  • Barenberg, A., C. M. Moffitt, and B Watten , Elevated pH as a disinfection tool against three invasive mollusks of concern, Washington State Lake Protection Association.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 240

Phd Students: 161

Post Docs: 57

University Staff: 251

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 693

Scientific Publications: 1868

Presentations: 4284



  • Christine MoffittPrincipal Investigator
  • Amber BarenbergStudent

Funding Agencies

  • US Geological Survey


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