State: No evidence waste spill caused fish kill on High Rock Lake

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Staff report
State water quality officials say they have found no evidence that a fish kill in a cove off High Rock Lake was connected to a massive sewage spill in Thomasville earlier this year.
Residents discovered dead fish littering the shoreline next to the Fisherman’s Cove community off St. Matthews Church Road. David Lineberry, who lives in the area, had heard Sunday there were dead fish there but didn’t realize the magnitude of the kill until he went to the cove this morning to catch bait for fishing.
“Wasn’t no use throwing a net in there to try to catch no bait, because it wasn’t there,” Lineberry said.
Fish small and large lay dead along the shores. Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks estimated the number could be hundreds of thousands.
Naujoks said he believes the kill is connected to a 15.9 million gallon sewage spill that occurred upstream in Thomasville.
The sewage spill, which Thomasville reported in early August and had been going on for several weeks, made its way downstream and settled into the sediment near the High Rock dam. Then something ó it could have been rain and wind, he said ó disturbed the water and churned up the sewage, which formed algae that robbed the water of oxygen and killed the fish, he said.
But Susan Massengale, a public information officer for the state Division of Water Quality said an investigator tested the water in the cove this afternoon and found no evidence that waste had contaminated the water. She said changes in weather or temperature can cause a natural decline in the dissolved oxygen levels that fish in the shallow, nearly enclosed cove simply could not escape.
See Wednesday’s Salisbury Post and for more information.