Weekly update — June 19

Testing: Heat, low oxygen likely behind fish deaths

Preliminary testing has identified high temperatures and low oxygen as probable reasons for hundreds of fish dying at Dennis Chavez Lake.

Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said a test showed temperatures are abnormally high at 78 degrees with oxygen at a low level of 1.1 milligrams per liter of water.

“That means that it’s just too hot,” he said. “According to those facts it gives a pretty good indication of what’s going on. It’s just probably an algae bloom.”

Installing a fountain to aerate the water could help but would be too costly, he said.

“The only thing that would solve our problem is a good rainfall,” Bizzell said.

Bizzell said samples have also been taken to a lab for toxicology testing to eliminate the possibility of contaminates but those results will take longer to get back.

In the meantime, the city lifted a no fishing ban on the lake, but the water will not be stocked with fish in the current state.

“We won’t even dare to put any fish in there until we know it’s safe,” he said.

Thursday morning, city workers discovered hundreds of dead fish, mostly carp, along the banks of the small lake on west 14th Street.

— Sharna Johnson