Weather-prompted fish kills are likely

Published 12:26 am Friday, August 3, 2012


As crops wither, fields of parched soil struggle to support any life, and lakes and even rivers recede across the United States during this long, arid summer, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality asks the public to be aware of a possible increase in fish kills in local water bodies as a result of the weather conditions that show no sign of relenting.

The dry conditions, interspersed in Louisiana with periods of heavy rainfall, threaten the oxygen levels in bodies of water, and such a drastic change in environment is the most common cause of a fish kill, according to the LDEQ.

During a drought, oxygen levels in a water body diminish, thereby affecting the native aquatic life which relies on specific ecological and biological conditions in order to thrive. Reduced oxygen in water, or ecological hypoxia, is a common cause in the death of aquatic life.

“In addition to the recent drought, heavy rainfall that occurred this week may have contributed to organic loading and oxygen demand within certain water bodies in southern Louisiana,” said Chris Piehler, administrator of DEQ’s Inspections Division. “Unfortunately, such sudden changes in the climate tend to negatively impact the quality of life of fish and other aquatic life residing in lakes, rivers, bayous and tributaries.”

A sudden and widespread loss of oxygen in the Pearl River last summer, due to a choking spill from what was then Temple-Inland, is what caused the deaths of millions of fish.

LDEQ spokesman Tim Beckstrom said the young fish that were subsequently restocked into the river and the recovering river itself are in no particular peril because of the current conditions.

“Streams like the Pearl will be less affected than shallow lakes,” he said. “There are no unusual potential dangers in the Pearl.”

Members of the public with questions or concerns about fish kills can contact the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality at 225-219-3640 or toll free at 1-888-763-5424.

Citizens may also report an incident online by completing an incident reporting form at http://www. apps/forms/irf/ forms/.