Drought blamed for recent Ogeechee River fish kill

Written by  Thursday, 07 June 2012 15:11

Even though the Environmental Protection Division said the exact cause of the latest fish kill in the Ogeechee River may never be known, advisories against swimming or fishing in the river have been lifted.   

Wednesday afternoon the Bulloch County EMA, Effingham County Emergency Management Agency and Bryan County EMA working in cooperation decided to lift the advisory.

Officially the most recent fish kill was attributed to bacterial infection caused by low water levels and water flow and increased water temperatures.    

Diana Weddincamp with the Ogeechee Riverkeeper contends there were no dead fish above the King America Finishing discharge pipe and wants discharge from the plant to be suspended.  However, Jim Ussery, assistant director of the EPD, said tests have concluded that King America is meeting water quality standards and did not cause the recent fish kill and restricting discharge at this time is not very high.

In 2011 King Finishing was fined a million dollars and additional monitoring requirements because of the deaths of more than 38,000 fish.  Even now the EPD will only say “a textile plant on the river had an unauthorized wastewater discharge” and has not said King America was responsible for that fish kill.

The EPD will hold a public hearing at the Effingham County High School next Tuesday regarding a new draft permit for King America Finishing which is being opposed by the Ogeechee Riverkeeper.

According to the EPD water flow in the Ogeechee River dropped to 60 to 70 cubic feet per second in May.  The flow need be 127 cubic feet per second to support healthy fish.  The water temperature has also risen above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

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