Boat owners transporting watercraft with ballast tanks or bladders will undergo additional cleaning at watercraft inspection stations to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Montana Legislature passed a law requiring 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.
Because some aquatic invasive species are microscopic, standing water inside ballast tanks or bladders can unintentionally transport these 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. Decontamination with hot water will eliminate the possibility of transporting AIS.
Boats with ballast tanks or bladders 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.
Decontamination can take up to one hour, depending on the watercraft, to allow for a hot water flush of the tanks. If a boat cannot be decontaminated at an inspection station, the boat will be locked to the trailer and arrangements made for a follow-up decontamination.