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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Heat kills fish below dam Striped bass fall victim to ‘unbearably hot Summer' - 10th Aug 2011

State and federal officials are performing a balancing act trying to prevent the death of game fish in the Grand River below Fort Gibson Dam.

Fisheries experts blame the ‘unbearably hot summer” for the fish kill initially reported Aug. 2. Dead fish — mostly striped bass — continued to surface in basins below the dam as late as Friday.

Unlike recent fish kills in Honor Heights Park ponds, which were caused by deficiencies in dissolved oxygen levels, local fisheries experts say the fish kill below Fort Gibson Dam appears to be “mostly heat related.”

Jim Burroughs, regional fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s east central district, described the fish kill as “relatively small.”

“But it’s hard to get a good count when the fish get washed downstream,” Burroughs said, referencing periodic releases of water from the dam.

Burroughs said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is following recommended protocols to prevent fish kills. But this summer’s brutal heat and drought conditions limit the options available.

The Corps, Burroughs said, is releasing what water it can from the dam’s tainter and sluice gates. Tainter gates allow water from the lake’s surface to spill into the river. Sluice gates release water from mid-depth levels.

Burroughs said surface water contains more dissolved oxygen but is warmer. Water from the mid-depth levels typically are cooler, but dissolved oxygen levels are lower. Releasing water from both provides some relief at both ends of the spectrum. Read More