Boat owners transporting watercraft with ballast tanks will undergo additional cleaning at watercraft inspection stations to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
State law requires watercraft with ballast tanks or bladders to be decontaminated before launching on Montana waters. Decontamination is required when coming into Montana from out of state or when traveling west across the Continental Divide into the Columbia River Basin.
Boats with ballast tanks are typically used for wake boarding or wake surfing. The additional water weight allows the motorboat to create a large wave that wakeboarders can surf on.
Some aquatic invasive species are so small they can only be seen under a microscope. Standing water inside ballast tanks or bladders can unintentionally conceal these tiny invaders. Quagga and zebra mussel larvae can survive unseen in standing water for up to 30 days. Even when a boat owner drains the tanks or bladders some residual water remains inside.
Depending on the watercraft and the number of tanks, a decontamination can take up to one hour to allow for a hot-water flush of all tanks. Boater owners should budget time at the watercraft inspections station into their travel plans or arrange for an inspection and decontamination ahead of time.
To find a watercraft inspection station or to learn more, go to CleanDrainDryMT.com or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.