What causes fish kills in Hamilton Co?
It's still a mystery why thousands of fish died in one Hixson neighborhood.
It's still a mystery why thousands of fish died in one Hixson neighborhood. The fish were found in what Public Works officials say is an overflow ditch.
They also say the fish probably died because of extreme weather, but people living nearby aren't so sure.
According to TWRA, about 34,000 fish were found dead in and along the ditch behind Memphis Drive last week. Drake Boscaino and many of his neighbors believe it's because of sewage leaks. One happened about ten days before the fish were found.
"The manhole was blown off the sewer pipe," Boscaino says. "It was shooting sewage. I've got the video of it out there."
He says it took several hours for Public Works to get it under control. He's concerned the sewage and the disinfectant used to clean the area may have polluted the water where the fish died.
"The way that the land is shaped, all the runoff goes behind that station," Boscaino says. "There's a field behind the pump station. It crosses over that field; it goes into that creek or conveyance."
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) says, " [TDEC] has conducted our testing and field observations at the site and all results were within normal parameters."
TWRA says the fish are part of the shad family. Justin Holland, Chattanooga Public Works Administrator, says the same type of fish were found dead in large numbers in several other parts of the county. He says it was probably because of heavy rain followed by a dry spell and record heat around 80 degrees.
"It really seemed like the logical answer was the dissolved oxygen or depletion of oxygen in the water that would have caused the fish to die of natural causes," Holland explains.
He says the disinfectant used is environmentally safe, and TDEC knew about the recent sewage overflow and subsequent clean up before doing its testing. Holland also sent water and fish samples to TWRA for testing. If the results are different than TDEC's and show that the city is at fault for the dead fish, Public Works will act immediately.
"If it's something that the city's responsible for, we always respond in a fashion that would expedite a cleanup or expedite a remediation of the site."
Otherwise, they'll leave clean up of the dead fish to mother nature.
Also, we asked about the sewage problems which neighbors say have been happening for many years. Holland says the city tried to install an overflow tank as a solution, but the people were against it. The department is working on another solution.