SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) — The Division of Water Resources and Wildlife Commission is investigating a reported fish kill around the Snow Hill area following several calls from the community.
Officials confirm an increasing number of dead fish, and they expect the number to increase as a low dissolved oxygen pocket continues to move downstream. Field meter readings showed an area along Contentnea Creek with low dissolved or little to no oxygen levels, also known as “dead water”.
Species including catfish, brim, sunfish, eel, bass and more ranging in size from a few inches to a few feet have been killed. Officials with the Division of Water Resources said oftentimes heavy rain can wash organic material into the water, and as it breaks down, it sucks all the oxygen out of the water.
“There’s no immediate discharge source or spill that has been identified to attribute the slug of low DO water to. It could be a result of heavy rains occurring earlier in the week that may have pushed old stagnant water from lowland / swamp-like areas into the creek, which has occurred in the past.”NCDEQ, Division of Water Resources
Officials anticipate the slug of low dissolved water to move downstream towards Grifton, creating the potential for fish kills to continue until the oxygen rebounds.
Greene County Commissioner Derek Burress said he hopes the Department of Water Resources and Wildlife officials continue to follow up.
“Contentnea Creek is our county’s most valuable asset. I hope to see more people getting involved in the activities that are being held to keep the creek clean,” Burress said.
Burress said the county has been experiencing a drought for some time, so low-lying areas took in a lot of sediment run-off with recent rains.
Officials say they will continue to monitor the kills as the oxygen slug stays on its suggested path.