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Results revealed of fish kill on Beaver Lake

By Staff | Aug 24, 2010

The fish returned shortly after a fish kill at Beaver Lake in early July according to DEP. It was not gas related from a nearby drilling site, but resulted from an algaecide application along with soaring hot temperatures.

HUGHESVILLE – Fortunately for residents living along Beaver Lake, the fish have returned to their natural habitat after a massive fish kill that occurred earlier in the summer.

Both the Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Boat Commission were on the scene and recently reported their results of the investigation after taking several water samples.

In the meantime, Steve Shrawder, president of the Beaver Lake Wilderness Club and other volunteer members picked up the fish by hand, dug holes and scooped up the fish and cleared away an estimated 3,000 dead fish. “We had to bury the fish before they attracted black bears,” Schrawder said.

According to reports the water quality samples indicated low-oxygen levels on July 1, but nothing out of the normal range according to Tom Randis quality control operations chief for Northcentral DEP.

After ordering a “priority” analysis, the water samples were sent to the DEP Bureau of Laboratories in Harrisburg.

It was discovered that an algicide application two weeks prior apparently killed the plants, and the decaying vegetation absorbed the oxygen out of the water table. The initial water test showed an almost non-existent level of oxygen which is essential for fish to breathe.

DEP heard from a number of concerned residents who thought that the fish-kill was related to a nearby gas-drilling operation located within 2,000 feet from the edge of the lake.

“Some people indicated the well pad in the area had discharged toxic chemicals,” Randis said.

However, Chief Gas and Oil Co. ruled this out as a reason for the fish dying, he said.

If the fracking operation was at fault, metals associated with natural gas drilling would be found, or elevated levels of chlorides or salt, Randis further explained.

Ultimately, the Beaver Lake Association applied the algicide that was determined to have caused the problem compounded by an extended dry spell.

It was noted that the organization applied the chemical at appropriate rates and had a permit to do so. “We spray for lily pads every year because they grow like weeds,” said Shrawder. “As we control these, the less we have to spray. We have to control weeds to maintain recreational use.”

Reports show the algicide also was applied last year and a fish kill occurred on the lake in 2006 for similar reasons. “One can only assume the club must balance the amount of vegetation with the needs or wants of the fishing community since it is a private lake. In three to four days after the kill the fish returned,” Shrawder added. “There is no truth to the rumor there are no fish in Beaver Lake.”

“It can happen from a number of factors such as no rain, no fresh water, heat, overpopulation of some species of fish and dead vegetation taking oxygen out of the water,” he said.

“We have an association that has been here since 1988,” Shrawder said. The lake has a pavilion, barbecue grills, boat launch and dock. The families recently celebrated with an annual picnic over the weekend.