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Mill Creek MetroParks officials have confirmed, through testing done at Youngstown State University, that a lack of oxygen caused dozens of fish to die at the Lily Pond.
The dead fish, mainly blue gill and large mouth bass, were first reported Sunday afternoon to park officials. Fish and water samples were taken from the pond Monday and tested at YSU’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.
Mill Creek Metroparks Development and Marketing Director Linda Kostka confirmed that testing from YSU, along with confirmation from ODNR, the Ohio EPA and the Mahoning Soil and Water Conversation District, concluded the combination of hot weather last week and storms on Saturday morning created the “perfect storm” that led to the fish kill. According to the findings, the six day heat wave with temperatures over 85 degrees caused very warm water temperatures. As the temperature rose, levels of DO decreased causing stress on the fish. Rain on Saturday, July 20 diluted the already low levels of DO and suffocated the fish.
Mill Creek MetroParks Natural Resource Manager Kirsten Peetz said this type of situation is somewhat common in shallow ponds and others in the area experienced the same problem.
“The Lily Pond is very shallow for a pond and when weather events like that happen, there is not a refuge for the fish. It’s not isolated to Youngstown. There are other ponds with the same problem across the region.”
Peetz said the Lily Pond only measures five feet deep. An optimal depth for the pond would be about eight feet. Also, an aeration system may help with oxygenating the water. Both solutions would be costly and Peetz could not say if they were options for the park system.
Nearly all of the fish in the pond were killed by the depleted oxygen.
For more information on pond problems and solutions, click here.