YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Dead fish and dirty lakes are only part of the problem at Mill Creek Park after heavy rains caused city sewage to run into Lake Newport in late June.
On Tuesday, 27 Investigates learned the wildlife all throughout the park could be at risk. The park is currently without a natural resources director, who normally would help oversee the restoration of wildlife to its normal levels.
Ohio State University Extension Office Scientist Eugene Braig said that the dead fish floating on the surface are only part of the problem.
“Some fish are going to float. Some are going to sink. And the ones that have sunk you probably have no chance of seeing,” Braig said.
That means there could be risk to the park ecosystem as those fish start to rot.
“While you have all of that biological material remaining, in the water, as it’s decomposing, it’s consuming oxygen,” Braig said. “So there will be periodic risks of another low oxygen event.”
The environment in Mill Creek Park is like a child’s tower of blocks, with every piece depending upon another one for support. Now if you take one of those pieces away, it puts the entire system in danger.
“Mayflies and damsefly larvae that are in there that the ducks are eating, the geese are eating, the fish, and anything that eats the fish, there’s eagles, there’s cranes, so it’s going to affect the whole food chain in this area, from the bottom up,” Ray Beiersdorfer with the Youngstown State University Geology Department said.
It could be months or years before the lakes fully recover.
“There’s a lot of life underneath the rocks in this creek,” Beiersdorfer said. “Until events like this, it’s a pretty healthy creek.”