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Northwest states aim to protect Columbia basin from invasive species

Quagga mussels are a pest in many places, but they’ve yet to invade the Pacific Northwest.
Quagga mussels are a pest in many places, but they’ve yet to invade the Pacific Northwest. Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/KRT

States in the Pacific Northwest plan to use federal money contained in a new water bill to protect the Columbia River Basin from invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels.

The Senate on Thursday approved $9 billion in spending on 25 water development projects across the nation.

$9 billionThe amount of money approved by the U.S. Senate on Thursday to pay for 25 water development projects across the nation.

The legislation authorizes up to $20 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to match state spending for watercraft inspection stations, including those that help protect the river basin in Washington state, Idaho, Oregon and Montana.

Under the program, boats carrying invasive species can be stopped and cleaned if necessary. Officials said the Pacific Northwest is the only region of the country without the invasive species.

Last year, Congress appropriated $4 million to match state spending on the inspection stations, but that money has yet to reach the states.

Rob Hotakainen: 202-383-6154, @HotakainenRob

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