Heat, Drought Taking Toll on Metro Lakes and Ponds

Posted on: 6:40 pm, July 19, 2012, by

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The extreme heat can be hard on people, of course – but as many people are noticing at area lakes, the heat can be deadly for fish.

Officials with the Missouri Department of Conservation say that their phones have been constantly ringing with calls from people concerned about fish kills in area lakes and ponds.

According to Jake Allman with the Department of Conservation, the heat has been hitting smaller lakes and ponds hard this summer. He says that lakes and ponds are losing up to 11 inches of water a month because of evaporation from the extreme heat and drought conditions.

“What we’re having is a red algae bloom,” said Allman, looking over a pond in Kansas City. He says that this marks only the third time in 25 years that he’s seen red algae in the area.

“The water is evaporating but the nutrients aren’t, so you’ve got same nutrients and less water,” said Allman, who says that can cause wild fluctuations in the water’s oxygen level – which can kill fish.

Allman adds that the algae itself can be toxic – especially the red or neon-blue-green type of algae.

“You shouldn’t allow your animals to drink out of it, you shouldn’t swim in it,” said Allman.

But Allman says that while the smell of dead fish may not be all that appealing, there is no need to clean it up.

“In this heat they’ll be gone in three to four days, it’s not necessary to remove them,” said Allman, who adds that some scavenger animals would probably thank you for the treat.

Allman, who says that the damage isn’t permanent and that the lakes and ponds can be restocked with fish, says that outside of digging a deeper pond to hold more water (at least eight feet or deeper), there’s really nothing anybody can do – except for one thing.

“Pray for rain,” said Allman.

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