Local city officials investigating cause of dead fish in McPherson waterways

By Wayne Burns, Director Public Lands and Facilities
June 24, 2016

The City of McPherson in the past week has experienced several dead fish in the water ways leading into Lakeside and Wall Park.

A sudden appearance of dead fish in a lake or pond causes considerable concern and alarm for most people, whose first reaction is to suspect someone of poisoning the water body. Most fish kills, however, result from natural events, although people can influence their frequency and severity.

Fish kills usually result from too little oxygen in the water, according to biologists with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT). While some result from spills or illegal discharges of toxic substances, most kills occur when oxygen dissolved in the water drops to levels insufficient for fish survival. 

Weather patterns, water temperature, depth and quality, amount and type of plant growth, fish community structure, along with the presence of viruses and bacteria, are all factors that are necessary to trigger a fish kill.Lakes, ponds, and canals located in residential areas are particularly vulnerable to Dissolved Oxygen DO-related fish kills.

The City of McPherson in cooperation with KDWPT will continue to monitor and investigate the issue.  The City of McPherson encourages individuals to avoid swimming, wading and fishing in all water ways. 

City, State and most County agencies cannot clean up dead fish, so private landowners must undertake the task themselves. Kills occurring on city-maintained lakes and drainage right of ways will be cleaned up by city crews.

Concerned individuals can report fish kills to City Hall 620.245.2535 or KDWPT offices, especially if they suspect that a kill is a result of toxic spills.

Discussions with pond owners often lead to determinations of cause and State biologists can provide recommendations to prevent future kills.

On-site investigations are done on water bodies with public access and when environmental laws have been broken. Should anyone suspect that a fish kill be a result of unnatural causes, they should call the KDHE. Private pond owners can obtain the advice of a KDWPT biologist by calling the KDWPT.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism

Bryan Sowards,Wilson District Fisheries Biologist

 #3 State Park Rd., Sylvan Grove, KS 67481, Phone:(785)658-2465

[email protected]

Kansas Department Health and Environment – KDHE

Marsha Fleming,Water Supply and Wastewater (785) 827-9639, [email protected]

Jennifer Nichols, North Central District Environmental Administrator

2501 Market Place, Suite D, Salina, KS 67401-7699, Phone (785) 827-9639, FAX: (785) 827-1544

[email protected] or

City of McPherson

Wayne Burns, DirectorPublic Lands and Facilities

400 East Kansas, McPherson, Ks 67460