Zebra Mussel Protocol

Zebra Mussel Protocol


1. Guest boats or other watercraft are not allowed on the Lake. There are no exceptions to this rule.  Only watercraft owned, stickered, and under the control of Thomas Lakes residents will be allowed in the water.


2. Any boats, watercraft, docks. lifts and dock or lift parts launched into Thomas Lakes must not have been in any other lakes within the previous 10 days.  All watercraft, boat lift, shore station, dock that has been in any other body of water within the last 10 days must present certification of a professional decontamination from a local marina before launching and be certified "clean" or sit for a 10-day dry down period.


  • It is recommended that all watercraft intended for use on Thomas Lakes be put in the lake prior to Memorial Day weekend.


3. The boat launch will be a chained and remained locked at all times. Watercraft can launch into or be taken out of the lake during these specific times: Memorial Day thru Labor Day Fridays 5-7 PM and Sundays 5-7 PM, dependent on volunteer availability or, by emailing [email protected].  If you need another time, please email a request 48 hours in advance to [email protected].  Requests are not guaranteed.


4. Any watercraft launched into the lake must have a TLOA tether on the boat connected to the trailer.  If tether is missing or has been tampered with, the watercraft must sit or a ten (10) day dry down period or present certification of a professional decontamination from a local marina.  All boat lifts, shore stations and docks must be tethered and sit for a 10 day dry down period prior to launching. 


5. A few Thomas Lakes residents have agreed to possess a key and will open it for boats that have a tether attached or after the 10-day dry down period has been met. This takes place during the specific times noted above or upon request.


6. The risk of Zebra Mussel infestation is significantly associated with dealer boats and trailers that travel from water to water.  No dealer owned boats or trailers that are normally used to install docks/lifts will be allowed in the Lake.  It is suggested that in the event a watercraft is necessary for installation, that the dealer use the boat of the homeowner installing the dock/lift.


7. In an effort to protect our most valuable asset, no dealer boats or trailers will be allowed at Thomas Lakes.  If a homeowner does not have a trailer, it is suggested that they consider purchasing their own trailer or agreeing to share a trailer that is only exposed to the water at Thomas Lakes. If a dealer boat needs to launch in Thomas Lakes, they must present a clean certification from a local marina.


8. Homeowners must be vigilant and responsible for all forms of craft or ‘toys’ that they put into the Lake such as: wake boards, paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, floaties, and the like.  If they are used on other bodies of water please be sure to follow the same protocol below before using in Thomas Lakes. No outside kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and the like may be brought in for use in Thomas Lakes.


9. Protocol for cleaning watercraft, trailers, docks, lifts and other toys/equipment launched into Thomas Lakes:

a)    REMOVE all plants and mud and dispose of in trash

b)    WASH hull, trailer, equipment, bilge and other exposed surfaces with high-pressure hot water (140-155 degrees). DRY as much as possible

c)    DRAIN all water from the boat (pull all plugs) and dry all areas, including the motor, motor cooling system live wells, ballast tanks, bladder, bilges, and lower outboard units

d)    DRY watercraft for at least 10 days before launching into fresh water

e)    To bypass the 10-day dry down period, hire a local marina qualified to clean and certify watercraft.

10. Failure to abide by rules pertaining to zebra mussels may subject the homeowner to a fine and/or the loss of lake privileges for up to 12 months. 


FAQ Watercraft Inspection Protocol

Q: Does our lake, or other area lakes have zebra mussels now?

A: Thomas Lakes does NOT, however Omaha’s Lake Zorinsky, Omaha’s Lake Cunningham, Council Bluff’s Carter Lake, Lewis & Clark lake in northern Nebraska, as well as the Missouri River all have tested positive for zebra mussels. If your boat has been in any of these lakes, you’re at risk of infesting Thomas Lakes. 


Q: When will someone be at the boat dock to unlock the ramp for me to launch/pull out my boat?

A: Friday 5-7pm and Sunday 5-7pm during boating season (Memorial Day-Labor Day). Any other time please email [email protected] 48 hours in advance. All owners are encouraged to leave their watercraft in the lake during the season.


Q: Is there a phone number I should call to launch my boat/jet ski in during the week?

A: NO, please email [email protected] 48 hours in advance to request launching your boat outside of the designated weekend times.


Q: What if I need a repair on my boat?  Do I still need a tether/seal?

A: YES, it’s the only way to ensure the watercraft hasn’t been used in another lake or river.


Q: Can I take my boat out of the water any time I want?

A: NO, the ramp lock has been changed. Now you must follow the specified times allotted for launching or removing your boat from the water.


Q: Do I need to go through the inspection protocol if I always leave my boat at Thomas Lakes?

A: YES, whenever you take your boat out of the water you will get a tether/seal.  If that tether/seal has not been tampered with you will be able to re-launch without further inspection.  If it has been tampered with, your boat will be inspected and a 10-day dry down period will be in effect.


Q: What if I don’t want to wait 10 days for the dry down period to happen?

A: You may go to a certified marina that specializes in the Hosty power washing and bring certification that you have had it done.


Q: What is a tether/seal and can it be reused?

A: A tether is a numbered security seal that will connect your boat to your trailer.  This insures us that the watercraft was not placed in another body of water.  The tethers are one-time use only.


Q: What if I want to launch/take out my boat outside of the “normal boating season” that runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day?

A: You will need to email [email protected] 48 hours in advance to set up a time for someone to meet you at the boat ramp to assist.


Q: When I request a time out of the normal Friday and Sunday 5-7 pm hours, am I guaranteed someone will meet me to launch/take out my boat?

A: NO, please remember we are all volunteers.  Some have full time jobs and other commitments.  The board will do their best to accommodate the boating needs of TLOA members and to arrange a time that will work for all parties.  We appreciate your understanding.


Q: Will this inspection protocol change?

A: YES. As the experience of other lakes with this effort shows, it will be an evolving process. The TLOA board will continue to improve the process, as well as communicate those changes with you.


Q: Can I launch my watercraft vehicle from my own lot?

A: NO. We are controlling access to protect the lake for everyone and appreciate all owners following the protocol. 


Q: I didn’t launch my boat this spring, do I need a tether/seal?

A: YES. Please email [email protected] and arrange a time for a board member to seal your boat to the trailer.  By doing this it will make launching next year easier and quicker.  If you don’t have a tether/seal on your boat when you go to launch you will have to wait the 10 day dry down period even if you say your boat sat at the lake all winter.  This is the only way we can ensure not putting our lake at risk. 


Please be mindful of all paddleboards, kayaks, pedal boats, and  water mats that might have been exposed to zebra mussels from another lake.  These “smaller” items put our lake at risk as well. As we don’t have inspection protocol for these items yet, we want to protect our lake and a drop of zebra mussel larva would infect our lake and could devastate it. 


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