Dozens of dead fish floated to the surface of Palmetto Lake Satu -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Dozens of dead fish floated to the surface of Palmetto Lake Saturday morning

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Dozens of dead fish floated to the surface of Palmetto Lake Saturday morning. This triggered the mayor's office and the Department of Health and Environmental Control to investigate.

John Hansler owns a home on Myrtle Drive off 7th Avenue North in Surfside Beach. The storm drainage pond in his backyard is commonly known as Palmetto Lake. Hansler says it was quite upsetting to look out his window Saturday morning and see dead fish along what is typically a peaceful shoreline. "It's a very pretty area, as you can see. And now it's going to be a very pretty smelly area,” said Hansler.

These fish normally stay at the bottom of the pond. But dozens of fish were also at the surface struggling to breathe. DHEC and the mayor came to Hansler's backyard to investigate after he called to notify them of the issue and his concern.

The mayor of Surfside Beach, Doug Samples, says town crews treated the storm drainage ponds on Thursday with chemicals used to control algae blooms. That treatment is not out of the ordinary and the crews are certified to do that. But while investigating Saturday morning, Samples says the DHEC representative believes the recent bout of extreme heat plus that treatment reduced the oxygen levels in the water.

"Due to a lack of oxygen, the larger fish which tend to habitate at the bottom experience this lack of oxygen and you see them coming to the surface, gasping for air. It's not a pleasant sight by any means,” says Samples.

The mayor says they expect more fish to continue to die in the next 24 hours. So crews are scheduled to monitor the water throughout the Saturday and pick up any more dead fish. They are working to contain the problem to Palmetto Lake, so the dead fish don't wash downstream towards the ocean.

Mayor Samples says he will be contacting the Clemson Extension along with the Waccama Consortium to make sure they are handling the situation properly. And he wants to make sure they avoid this deadly situation from ever happening again.

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