WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), co-chair of the Invasive Species Caucus, and Scott De Leon, Director of the Lake County Water Resources Department were honored last week in Washington, D.C. at the second annual Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition (RRISC) Congressional Reception and Awards Program. Thompson, along with co-chair Dan Benishek (R-MI), received the “Outstanding Leadership by an Election Official in Protecting America’s Environment and Economy” award. De Leon received the “Outstanding Achievement by a Local Government Agency” award.
“It’s a high honor to be recognized for the work our caucus has done in both raising awareness of invasive species and passing laws to help mitigate the costly damage they can cause,” said Thompson. “The work we do would not be possible without great people like Scott De Leon and the Lake County Water Resources Department. They are on the front lines, protecting our communities from the major financial risks that invasive species pose. Scott’s recognition is well-earned.”
Aquatic invasive species pose a costly challenge to water infrastructure, fisheries, and the environment in local communities across the United States. However, this problem often only receives attention after an invasive species has become established in a new area and has begun clogging water pipes, infecting plants and animals with dangerous diseases, and outcompeting native species. These impacts can damage fisheries, pose health hazards, irreparably damage natural environments, and take a severe toll on local, state, and federal budgets.
For example, aquatic mussels such as quagga and zebra mussels have cost U.S. communities more than $5 billion since their introduction in the 1980s.
In the 5th Congressional District, Clear Lake, Lake Sonoma and Lake Berryessa are all rated at the highest possible risk level for quagga invasion. Currently, none of these lakes has been invaded by quagga mussels. However, if quaggas invade one of these lakes, control and treatment would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and negatively impact the water supply for residents in Sonoma, Lake, and Solano Counties. If quagga mussels invade the state water infrastructure it could cost millions every year to keep the pipes clear.
At the event, RRISC demonstrated a website developed by the Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia that allows Members of Congress to learn which invasive species affect their individual Congressional Districts.
Attendees learned how the economy, environment, and public health in every Congressional District are harmed by invasive species and how the award winners are making a difference in this fight.
The event was sponsored by Syngenta, the Wine Institute, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Dawson and Associates, and WakeWorX LLC.
About Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition
The Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition (RRISC) seeks to reduce the risks posed by invasive species to the economy, environment, and public health by educating Americans about those risks and promoting cost-effective non-regulatory risk-based strategies for reducing them.
About Congressman Mike Thompson
Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.