Fish kills in Shenandoah – 05/31/2004

  • September 30, 2013 at 10:36 pm #510

    By the Associated Press
    Published May 30, 2004

    HARRISONBURG, Va. — Two environmental agencies have taken water and
    fish samples following the discovery of dead fish along the
    Shenandoah River’s North Fork.

    White, bloated redbreast sunfish and smallmouth bass washed up on the
    banks of the river in April, provoking worries about pollution and an
    ongoing fish kill.

    Fish as far north as Strasburg and as far south as Broadway turned up
    dead. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the
    Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are investigating the
    incident. But Don Kain, a DEQ water monitoring and compliance
    manager, said there haven’t been any new reports in several weeks.

    The DEQ monitors eight sites along the North Fork, checking for any
    unusual bacteria or pollutants. Nothing out of the ordinary has been
    found so far, Kain said.

    “If there were a pollution source, such as a discharge or spill, we
    would see a clearly delineated beginning and ending point of fish
    (killed) along the river,” he added.

    DGIF biologist Steve Reeser called the incident “baffling.”

    “The fish are being stressed by something,” he said. “But it also
    could be a combination of things.”

    Water-temperature changes, high water levels and spawning season all
    could contribute to what Reeser called a “mild” fish kill.

    About 20 percent or fewer of the fish sampled last week had lesions,
    Reeser said. He added that whatever is causing the sores is not
    afflicting the entire population of fish in the river.

    Excess amounts of nitrate and phosphate from agricultural and
    residential run-off impairs the North Fork’s water quality, Reeser

    That can spur plant growth in the water, which would cause a “huge
    swing” in dissolved oxygen levels. That, in turn, can hurt fish. But
    that type of growth, Reeser added, usually occurs later in the

    No water-quality related health advisories have been posted because
    of the fish kills, Kain said.

    “My hope is that this is winding down,” he said. “We will continue to
    monitor the situation and keep people informed.”

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