The stench from the dead and decaying fish in two northeast Austin ponds increased with the temperature Thursday. They're located in the Windsor Hills neighborhood, near the intersection of Applegate Dr. and Newport Avenue.
Environmental Quality Specialist Oscar Garza with Austin Watershed Protection was called out to investigate the fish kill. An incident like this, according to Garza, can happen overnight. “What I'm looking at right now, where this is leading me, to be the cause of this fish kill, it could happen very quickly,” said Garza.
Several hundred fish are dead, but there are signs of life in the ponds. Like turtles and other fish. There are no signs of oil on the water or any other contaminant. “If it’s not chemical not sewer, the likely source is a depletion of oxygen,” said Garza.
The loss of oxygen in water is caused by algae blooms and hot days.
Runoff from roads and yards are also contributing factors. It’s why city officials always urge homeowners to cut back on the use of fertilizers. "Absolutely, we definitely encourage folks to minimize fertilizer use. Definitely don’t over use it because it ends up in these waterways,” said Garza.
Officials with the state have been notified about the fish kill.
TCEQ may also do a review into the cause.
The sight and smell caused by the fish kill was a surprise for residents like Julianne Hare. "It’s interesting because I've never seen this before. I’ve seen people fish out here and it’s never been a problem,” said Hare.
The ponds were created several years ago when this neighborhood was built, they are not owned by the city so residents will be stuck with the cleanup bill. Garza says work crews can be hired to scoop out the dead fish and the algae. Or residents could just let nature do it. "You walk around the pond you might notice buzzards, raccoons, turtles, they will have a feast hear. It’s a buffet for them,” said Garza.
An aerator could be installed to circulate the water.
Garza advises against the use of chemicals, saying it could cause more harm than good.