November 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm #1027MikeKeymaster
Catfish deaths a mystery in Mineral Palace Park lake
City workers say other species of fish and waterfowl continue to
thrive in Mineral Palace Park’s Lake Clara.
By NICK BONHAM
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Hundreds of bullhead catfish mysteriously died during the weekend at
Mineral Palace Park, and more continued to go belly up on Monday.
The City Parks and Recreation Department had few answers and
explanations for the schools of dead and dying fish in Lake Clara.
“I don’t know,” Parks and Recreation Director Rich Zajac said simply.
Zajac said the Colorado Division of Wildlife would be called in for
Mineral Palace workers were just as surprised as the number of
concerned citizens who called to report the dying fish in the last
“I’m no biologist,” said Joe Pantaleo, Mineral Palace Park’s
director, “But as you can see, there’s plenty of healthy fish in
(the lake), as well.”
Indeed, thousands of minnows, carp and koi fish swam quickly and
freely in the green water, along with flocks of waterfowl and all
seemed unaffected by whatever claimed their whiskered cohorts.
But at close range, one could watch as bullheads ascended from the
murk and swam the surface for a few moments before rolling over,
Underground wells feed Lake Clara, according to Zajac, who said he
is unsure if contaminants from the polluted Fountain Creek, which
flows just east of Mineral Palace Park, across Interstate 25, might
have seeped into the water.
Life around Lake Clara was normal before crews left for the weekend,
“We clean this lake and park regularly, and everything was fine on
Friday,” he said.
Pantaleo added: “It’s hard to keep the lake clean with the wind
blowing debris in and all.”
Workers spent most of Monday scooping nets of dead fish into
barrels. Cleanup efforts will continue by boat today.
An aeration system lines the lake floor and powers a fountain at the
south end of the 3-foot-deep, 3-acre body of water.
Pantaleo said it’s been five years or more since Lake Clara has been
drained and the current underwater inhabitants have lived there
since before he can remember.
The only recent addition to the lake has been hatchery-bred grass
carp, which were released to manage algae growth
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