DNR officials investigate dead fish in Iowa City waterway - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

DNR officials investigate dead fish in Iowa City waterway

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The Department of Natural Resources is investigating dozens of dead fish found along a small waterway in Iowa City.

DNR officials say they deal with fish kills on a regular basis, but finding what causes them can be very difficult.

For now, they say this is not a public health issue, but it could be a while before they find out what the problem is, as it may have already moved downstream since Sunday, when they were found.

"Some of these fish look like they've been dead for several days," said fisheries biologist Paul Sleeper. "There's a lot of little waterways that come in, there's little culverts that come in, and it's really hard to tell."

He's been stopping at random bridge crossings over this tributary to Ralston Creek, counting the dead. He says the highest concentration was found under a walkbridge at Creekside Park.

"A lot of times you have any contaminant, it kind of pushes the fish down a ways, so it's kind of hard to find the exact start."

Initial water tests came up negative for dangerous chemicals. "The problem is, there's so many chemicals, and you have to know what to test for," Sleeper told us.

That's Brian Lee's job; he's an environmental specialist with the DNR. He told us as of Monday the investigation was ongoing, but listed some of the possibilities. "A foreign substance, it could have been dumped, it could have been something that had been in the soil and been washed away by recent rains."

Adding to the challenge, is that the water runs through a residential area with a lot of storm drains, meaning there's no obvious culprit.

The DNR says there's no cause for alarm here, but they're telling people to stay out of the water to be safe, until they find out what happened.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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