Mussel Introduction & Performance in an Urban Stream Environment


It is widely recognized that freshwater mussels have the ability to filter stream water at a prodigious rate, improving water quality, and thereby potentially keeping local streams, rivers, and receiving estuaries cleaner. Within urbanized settings such as Reston, the possibility of utilizing mussels to improve both local water quality and that of larger receiving systems is quite intriguing. The basic issue and associated research question for the first RFP study completed by Virginia Commonwealth University was whether or not newly stocked freshwater mussels were able to survive, perform and reproduce in these urban streams prior to deploying a larger scale effort that would also measure associated water quality effects. Based on the results of this first component study, we are currently supporting Virginia Tech in a second study to determine whether we can establish a reproducing population of mussels and how much pollution (TSS, TN and TP) they can remove.

The first RFP, “Mussel Introduction into an Urban Stream Environment”, 2020, was completed by Virginia Commonwealth University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2022. The second RFP, “Mussel Performance in an Urban Stream Environment” began in 2022.

Article in FFX, Fairfax County News: Project to restore mussels underway at Reston’s Snakeden and Glade Streams by Fatimah Waseem, June 13, 2023.

Virginia Tech Researchers Stock the Snakeden Stream in Reston – WUSA9 News Release, July 28, 2023 – Video