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Fish kill reported in Brazos River following heavy spring rains

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Posted at 2:50 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 15:50:51-04

WACO, TX — The Brazos River Authority (BRA) said a large number of fish died in the Brazos River after floodgates were closed at Lake Granbury following months of heavy rains.

The BRA said in a release that the floodgates were closed after months of water releases brought on by all the rain during the spring. The fish kill occurred downstream of the DeCordova Bend Dam at Lake Grandbury on Monday, July 22.

“There has been a great deal of concern regarding the recent fish kill below Lake Granbury,” said Public Information Officer Judi Pierce.

But according to Tiffany Morgan, BRAs Environmental and Compliance Manager, the reason for it was a lack of oxygen in the basin below the dam and not caused by toxins in the river. However, the BRA warns that it is not recommended to swim near dead fish because of bacteria levels caused by the decomposing fish.

Though toxins in the water were not responsible for the fish deaths, during past fish kill events, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the US Fish and Wildlife Service all stated that swimming near dead fish is not recommended as bacteria levels associated with decomposition may be high. Fishing in the Brazos River and consuming fish caught below Lake Granbury continues to be safe; however, dead or dying fish should not be eaten.

Months of floodwater and releases caused the fish to "gather in the dam structures stilling basin," said Reservoir Manager Connie Tucker. She explains that as temperatures climbed, a decrease in dissolved oxygen in the water led to numerous fish dying. Floodgates were then temporarily opened to increase the oxygen levels, and this sent dead and dying fish downstream.

The BRA says more fish kills are possible as temperatures continue to rise and because of a decline in reservoir releases.

For questions on the fish kill, you can contact the BRA Public Information Office at 888-922-6272.