EL PASO, Texas - For days, concerned ABC-7 viewers have been calling about dead fish floating in Ascarate Lake, and that the lake itself has a foul odor.
County staff said Monday the problem is being caused by a golden algae bloom - a rapid growth of algae. And it all may have been set off in part by a fish restocking.
Crews for the county have been working to keep the lake clear of dead fish, with the toll estimated to be at over 1,000. The county gets fish for the lake from east Texas on the gulf coast and the algae may have come along with the latest or other recent restockings.
The county has and has dealt with minor outbreaks before, but the severity of this bloom is unusual. Staff are in contact with Texas Parks and Wildlife and other agencies to fix it. But the weather may actually be making it worse because this form of algae thrives in the cold.
"We've been assured there is no risk to the public, but they did recommend that we shut down the lake for a period of time until the water in the lake warms up," said County Public Works Director Pat Adauto. "And this past weekend it did, but then today it's cold again.
The county has gotten recommendations for some chemical fixes, but there's concerns it could then kill the other kinds of fish in the lake. While that's figured out, the lake itself will remain closed to fishing. Adauto said the county is managing the fish and making sure it won't affect events at the lake.