Sparks Marina Cleans Up After Fish Kill; Cause Determined - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Sparks Marina Cleans Up After Fish Kill; Cause Determined

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Sparks Marina resident Richard Washburn took in the view on a sunny Monday. Things looked a lot better on the beach than they did Sunday. As he told us, "There were just a lot of trout carcasses all up and down the shore here on these swimming beaches."

Richard has lived right by the water for years. He still can't shake what he saw, and could smell there Sunday. He told us, "The lake's big catfish, the ones that grow really big…they were right on the shore there going through the last stages of, you know, dying. That was kind of disturbing."

But the "fish kill" looks like its over. After thousands of dead fish filled up the shore there over the past several says, the picture looked a lot better on our visit. Nevada Department of Wildlife Fisheries Biologist Chris Crookshanks showed us how the beach was like it was before, "Because we spent most of yesterday cleaning up dead fish. How do you clean up thousands of dead fish? You get in the water with nets and bring the fish onto the shore."

As for the cause of the massive fish kill, Crookshanks says the relatively low level of the water had nothing to do with it: "No, not necessarily. It's down a little bit, but no, it's so deep you don't usually have these problems."

There's something else that may make long-timers here suspicious: Sparks Marina used to be anything but a picturesque lake. It was the remnants of the old Helms Pit, which was a gravel and sand operation. You'd see the polluted, orange water at the bottom of the pit, but that was 13 years ago. Crookshanks told us the fish kill "was not a Helms Pit pollution problem at all. It is simply a gross lack of oxygen in the water. We ran a whole suite of water quality tests yesterday. It tested fine"

Those tests show the water is clean. He says the lack of oxygen that caused the fish to go belly up was something that just happens at times, especially during a change in seasons: "As temperatures cool down and the water temperature cools down this time of year, you get a mixing of that anoxic layer of water with the rest of the water, and it depletes the level of oxygen in the water."

He says the cycle, and the fish kill event, are over...and the fish you catch at the Marina are now ok to eat. For resident Richard Washburn, it's now back to the same lake that made him want to move there 9 years ago. He pointed out the view from his house: "We live over by the dock over there, so we get to see a lot of people fishing."

-written by John Potter

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