Santa Maria - North County

Fish washing up dead again at Santa Maria park

City says this is 6th year in a row

Fish washing up dead again at Santa...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Dead fish are washing up again at the lake at Jim May Park in Santa Maria - and a lot of it.

It's an eerie scene here at this lake. There has to be thousands of fish that are washing up and the city says this has been happening for several years in a row now.

"I like this park, I come 2-3 times a month, I had a big surprise.. oh it smells so bad, a lot of fish died, it's unbelievable," park-goer Fausto Urrutia said.  

The reason for this happening, is that the water coming into this lake comes in from the flood channel and ag fields and stands still and doesn't circulate. When this happens, the algae bloom will claim too much of the oxygen from these fish.    

The city says this is the sixth year in a row that this has happened.

The previous five years, this fish die-off was blamed on the drought - this year it's being blamed on that standing water and algae bloom.

Urrutia says his boys were a little startled. 

"They were trying to cry because they weren't moving and it smelled so bad. 

He described just how bad it smelled.

"Uh dirty, like trash, some chemical, I don't know, different things, if you stay here for a long time maybe you'll get a headache," Urrutia said. 

This man-made lake is actually a flood control detention basin.  

A city crew will be coming in here to remove the fish because of the smell and the local birds will likely consume some of these fish. 

"Even the birds are sensing that they're not healthy," park-goer Glenn Mcardle said.  

The city plans to add a bio filter to the lake later this year to remove the nitrates in the water to improve the quality of the groundwater - which could indirectly help the fish life.

The city also says they do not re-stock the lake with fish.

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