Low oxygen suspected in Betty's Branch fish kill

Water's oxygen fell after rains

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Oxygen-depleted water along the Betty’s Branch tributary of the Savannah River was the likely cause of death for as many as 5,000 fish, officials said.

Dead fish of varied sizes and species were seen over the weekend both upstream and downstream of the boat launch area at Columbia Coun­ty’s Riverview Park.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials found extremely low levels of oxygen in Betty’s Branch.

“They were seeing dissolved oxygen levels below 1 milliogram per liter,” regional fisheries supervisor Steve Schleiger said.

Although no specific cause of the low oxygen was identified, a possible cause could be decaying organic matter flushed into the stream during recent heavy rains.
Authorities estimated that 5,000 fish were killed, Schleiger said.

By Monday afternoon, oxygen levels were recovering and had risen to 3 milligrams per liter in Betty’s Branch, while water quality in the main river channel remained normal, with oxygen levels of 5 to 6 milligrams per liter.

“We believe the actual fish kill is over and that all the fish that are going to die appear to have died,” Schlei­ger said, adding that live fish caught in the area are safe to eat.

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KSL
135437
Points
KSL 07/30/13 - 01:49 am
6
6
All fish that that are going

All fish that that are going to die appear to have died. APPEAR TO HAVE DIED. What the heck does that sentence mean? Can't they tell if they have died, or are those bureacrats too afraid to make a statement? They surely get paid a a lot of money not to commit to their training and beliefs, which they get paid for.

Yes, I know what he means.

KSL
135437
Points
KSL 07/30/13 - 01:51 am
7
2
Oxygen levels are back up,

Oxygen levels are back up, and they don't expect massive deaths. And these people are hired by the same government overseeing Obamacare.

soapy_725
43810
Points
soapy_725 07/30/13 - 07:44 am
1
0
Rain Run Off? Smells like another Rain Tax.
Unpublished

Rain Run Off? Smells like another Rain Tax.

soapy_725
43810
Points
soapy_725 07/30/13 - 07:44 am
1
0
Contamination to be identified at a later date. LOL LOL
Unpublished

Contamination to be identified at a later date. LOL LOL

soapy_725
43810
Points
soapy_725 07/30/13 - 07:45 am
1
0
Fossil Fuels Perhaps? Analyze one of the fish. Several fish.
Unpublished

Fossil Fuels Perhaps? Analyze one of the fish. Several fish.

soapy_725
43810
Points
soapy_725 07/30/13 - 07:46 am
1
0
Blame it on God. He made those fish oxygen dependent.
Unpublished

Blame it on God. He made those fish oxygen dependent.

Riverman1
87458
Points
Riverman1 07/30/13 - 08:06 am
2
3
KSL, hahaha.

KSL, hahaha.

Rob Pavey
552
Points
Rob Pavey 07/30/13 - 08:35 am
7
1
KSL, if you want to criticize and complain....

...it should be directed at me, not the fisheries biologist who was kind enough to return my call even though he was busy with another matter over in Fort Valley. I wrote the story so it is my job to choose what to include to create the most complete report. My intent was to convey his opinion that the oxygen lapse had begun to correct itself, making additional fish mortality unlikely.

Riverman1
87458
Points
Riverman1 07/30/13 - 08:59 am
1
0
Aerators?

I know we've had lots of rain with run-off, but the aerators at the dam don't appear to be doing much. Those oxygen levels even in the main channel are pretty low.

nocnoc
45403
Points
nocnoc 07/30/13 - 09:39 am
1
0
Question to the Earth Friendly Commentors

With all this rain washing things into our creeks.
Could a Oxygen Killer chemical have made its way into the Eco system?

I ask because
as small kids we use to dam up small creek areas and add a couple of soda bottles of mothers Chrolex to the dam section 10x10 and grab the fish floating up for a afternoon swamp lunch over a pit-fire.

Washer machine run off getting into the creek could do the same thing.

belle
309
Points
belle 07/30/13 - 09:40 am
0
0
No questions about the dam release?
Unpublished

This didn't happen after the rains, it happened after the dam released tons of water into the river. Not saying that wasn't necessary but a slow release over time would not cause as many problems. The water levels increased drastically over too short a time. They increased more than the COE chose to admit. Had they started sooner and slower the problems would have been minimal.

Little Lamb
47209
Points
Little Lamb 07/30/13 - 09:45 am
1
1
Oxygen Killer

You bring up a good point, nocnoc. The DNR fisheries people don't want to do a lengthy investigation to find out the cause of the low oxygen, so they brush it away be saying it's possibly decaying organic matter. The general public doesn't care, either, so the matter is brushed aside. There could very well be an industrial or commercial source (maybe unintentional) and society would be well served if the source were definitively found and corrected. That's not going to happen since Steve Schleiger hot-footed it back to Fort Valley.

Little Lamb
47209
Points
Little Lamb 07/30/13 - 09:48 am
2
1
Decaying Organic Matter

The reason I don't buy the "decaying organic matter" is because you had 5,000 dead fish in a small portion of Bettys Branch, but in no other tributary. You can bet there is decaying organic matter in all the tributaries.

riverboy
8
Points
riverboy 07/30/13 - 10:09 am
2
0
KSL

By the way DNR employees from the top down do not get "paid a a lot of money". You can view all state employees salaries on the open georgia accountancy web portal.

riverboy
8
Points
riverboy 07/30/13 - 10:09 am
2
0
KSL

By the way DNR employees from the top down do not get "paid a a lot of money". You can view all state employees salaries on the open georgia accountancy web portal.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/30/13 - 10:44 am
1
0
This climate has been great

This climate has been great for vegetation to become lush and prolific. We have had some reports of invasive aquatic vegetation in our waterways already this past year. If conditions are ripe for algae, it doesn't appear preposterous that the ecosystem just tanked for those fish that weren't even living in that vicinity in years past b/c of low levels. Hopefully samples were sent for toxicology or post-mortem survey and they will clarify if any pollutants were the real cause. At this point, I'm on the fence.

Fishboy
29
Points
Fishboy 07/30/13 - 10:50 am
2
0
Here's a thought

Maybe runoff from overfertilized lawns found it's way into Betty's Branch, which was stagnant for some time due to the high water. The fertilizer created algal blooms in all of the shallow, flooded areas. Algal respiration during the night led to low dissolved oxygen levels. Last Friday night, when the water in Betty's Branch dropped 3 feet, all this low-oxygen water was concentrated, resulting in the observed fish kill.

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 07/30/13 - 11:25 am
2
0
Sounds good to me Fishboy. My

Sounds good to me Fishboy. My first thought was chemical runoff from Rivershyre.

Sweet son
10778
Points
Sweet son 07/30/13 - 12:51 pm
0
2
@KSL

I don't believe you have been playing nice today. Hey Rob, I wouldn't have even responded to her junk!

MrMojoRisin63
32
Points
MrMojoRisin63 07/30/13 - 02:10 pm
3
0
Don't think there would be

Don't think there would be anything from Rivershyre, especially since it is downstream from where some of the first dead fish were spotted near Champions Retreat. If it is due to any suspicious runoff, the golf course would be highly suspect. You know they use a ton of fertilizer, weed and insect control on that course. Those people probably have a lot of money and clout as well. Hmmm...

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/30/13 - 03:08 pm
3
0
Mojo

Good point

itsanotherday1
45610
Points
itsanotherday1 07/30/13 - 05:30 pm
2
0
Yep Mojo, good point. I

Yep Mojo, good point. I thought of the golf course but was not aware it was in proximity to Betty's Branch. Maybe I should look at a map before opining, LOL.

KSL
135437
Points
KSL 07/30/13 - 11:58 pm
0
0
Mr Pavey, having words I

Mr Pavey, having words I didn't say, words my husband didn't say put in quotes in newspaper articles surely does let me know reporters can paraphrase statements made by interviewees. Criticism was not directed at the fisherie guy at all. Don't deny I was criticizing the government attitude.

KSL
135437
Points
KSL 07/31/13 - 12:25 am
0
0
Whatever, it was a dumb

Whatever, it was a dumb sentence. Clue to why grammar is important. Your "apparenty" placement in the sentence is known as a "misplaced modifier." Those pesky modifiers can change the meaning, even make a sentence make no sense.

KSL
135437
Points
KSL 07/31/13 - 12:15 am
0
0
Sweet Son

Not so sweet tonight. The reporter messed up a sentence and you criticize me. Riverman also had a problem with reporting today. I laid off of that one.

KSL
135437
Points
KSL 07/31/13 - 12:32 am
0
0
mojo is right

A heck of a lot of BOD from golf courses.

KSL
135437
Points
KSL 07/31/13 - 12:45 am
0
0
To be an English major (for

To be an English major (for one of my majors), I have learned a heck of a lot of engineering over these years. I know what BOD means.

KSL
135437
Points
KSL 07/31/13 - 01:16 am
0
0
riverboy

I am sorry they don't get paid a lot. Social workers didn't get paid much either. I made $4.00 an hour when minimum wage was $3.25. Don't go there with me.

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