Many dead fish washing up on shores of Beaver Lake
HUGHESVILLE – Rosemary Gough counted the dead species of fish by the hundreds at Beaver Lake, but state experts on the environment and aquatic life preliminarily theorized Friday the unsightly destruction may be short-lived.
“I have buckets of dead fish in my yard,” said Gough, a resident who lives along the 100 acre lake that is 8 feet deep located in Penn Township, near the Sullivan County line.
“We’re seeing dead white bodies and fins,” she said. The man-made lake, built to supply power for a long-gone sawmill, has a fishkill that is deemed significant by state inspection teams.
“We had our specialist out Thursday until noon today,” said Sean Alexander, a water quality specialist supervisor with the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Northcentral Regional office in Williamsport.
A preliminary examination of the lake indicates a low-dissolved oxygen issue is what caused the fish to die, Alexander said.
In other words, the theory is species of bass, perch, crappie, bluegills and catfish are severely lacking oxygen.
“It is an extremely shallow pond, with a low flow,” Alexander said.
“A recent application of an algaecide may have caused some decomposition of vegetation that has sucked out the oxygen levels,” he said.
Meanwhile, the dead and decaying vegetation creates muck and mire beneath the shallow water. “I have never seen anything like this in the ten years I have lived here,” said Steve Shrawder, president of the Beaver Lake Wilderness Club, Inc.
Still, the problem does not appear to be long-term, according to Alexander.
“After a while it will cycle through and come back,” he said. He said it is likely the fish population will be back. As of Monday, oxygen levels were back up in the water according to Shrawder who held an emergency board meeting Sunday evening to discuss a plan of action and approve funds for clean-up,
Fishkills also can be spawned by stress and temperature fluctuation, Alexander said.
Following analysis of the water samples – to make sure the fishkill is not caused by other reasons – the results should be available in a couple of weeks, Alexander said.
Cleamup was conducted by several members of the Beaver Lake Wilderness Club who had to dig 3 large holes to dump the dead fish.
Boaters were blocked from gaining access to the boat launch ramp at the lake until cleanup was completed.
“It’s the entire lake,” said Bill Haney of 8553 Beaver Lake Road. The Gander Mountain employee and outdoors enthusiast said he is disgusted and saddened by what he sees.
Haney and his wife, Christine, moved here from Bloomsburg to live in quiet solitude along the shallow lake.
“My wife cried,” he said. “I have seen hundreds of small-fry fish gasping for air,” he said. “It’s bad.”
A small stream near the lake itself also has plenty of fish, trying to escape the larger body of water, he said.
Eight-pound bass were pulled and measured from this lake, he said. The lake originally had a depth of 31 feet, Haney said. “I have lived here since 1991,” he said. “I see everything that goes on at this lake.”