Local News

Oxygen-Deprived Rivers Taking Toll on Fish

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FAYETTEVILLE — The hot humid weather is spelling death for our rivers. Hundreds of fish have been killed. There were two separate kills this week-- one in the South River on the Cumberland-Sampson County line and one in the Ashpole swamp in Robeson county.

Schools of fish are struggling to stay alive. They've come to the top to get the little bit of oxygen left in this river. Several hundred fish in the South River have already died. The death toll in Robeson County's Ashpole swamp is higher, at more than a thousand.

Paul Rawls is a state water specialist. He and the others in his office have studied the problem.

"We've determined so far that the fish kill is due to low dissolved oxygen concentrations that is the result of low flow and high temperatures," Rawls explains.

State water quality experts have been out several times to make sure the weather is causing the fish kill and not something else like a sewage or chemical spill. In the meantime, residents here say what's going on is extremely frustrating.

"It's pitiful to look at them down there like that," Herman Carroll, Jr. says. "It's just like a patient laying in the hospital dying, and there ain't nothing you can do."

Environmental experts say they only thing that can save the rest of the fish is lots of rain or a significant temperature cool down. Now all river residents can do is wait and hope.

State environmentalists say fish kills like these aren't unusual at this time of year. But if the hot and dry conditions continue, the situation could get much worse.