Dead fish across Lake Decatur "nothing unnatural"


Dead fish: They are showing up across Lake Decatur. Not only are they unpleasant to look at it, but it's causing parts of the town to smell. Clusters of fish are forming in the corners along the dock at Nelson Park. It's that site and smell that have some people avoiding the lake.

Bob Hawkins stopped by Nelson Park Wednesday, to check out the dead fish.

"I'm waiting until the dead fish are gone," he said.

Then he'll take his boat out.

"It's disgusting," Hawkins described. "This is the worst I've ever seen it."

And if you haven't seen it, you can smell it.

"The smell is just terrible," Hawkins said.

"It's not pretty and it's not smelling good," explained Decatur resident Rodney Lindley.

And it's not uncommon either.

"This is nothing unnatural for lakes in Central Illinois area," said Joe Nihiser lake maintenance supervisor.

And if you're wondering why there is all the dead fish, the answer may be in peoples' backyards.

"Peoples' grasses and stuff that they dump along the lake that naturally gets washed into our lake, that's just not good for the fish," Nihiser said.

Because lawn clippings could carry bacteria and then that gets washed into the lake.

"It is affecting our body of water which affects the fish," he said.

But it still has some people raising questions.

"Well, if something's in there killing the fish, could it make me sick?" asked Decatur resident Debbie Burgess.

According to Nihiser the answer: "To say it's a real health hazard. No."

But the looks and smell of it still have some people, like Hawkins, avoiding the water.

"I wouldn't want to get in there and swim right now," Hawkins said with a laugh. "No way."

So for now he and his boat will have wait until the dead fish are gone.

With the wind and wave action there's no telling when the fish are going to go away. Nihiser said he may be able to help if a lot of fish are collecting on resident's shoreline. He can do what is called a prop wash. It washes the fish back out into the main channel.

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