There will be more fish in the Ogeechee River this afternoon after the Georgia Department of Natural Resources completes its first restocking effort at the Ga. 24 Bridge Oliver landing in Bulloch County.
The restocking effort follows a massive fish kill in May, where about 38,000 fish of several species died from columnaris, a bacterial disease caused by environmental stress.
Many blame King America Finishing, a textiles treatment company near Dover. Recently, the Environmental Protection Division ordered the company to fund $1 million in environmental improvements to the river after investigations found the plant was dumping effluent in violation of its permit.
Testing, both private and by government officials and the Ogeechee Riverkeeper organization, revealed high levels of ammonia, formaldehyde and other chemicals in the waters. Some claim the pollution is the cause of the environmental stress leading to the columnaris outbreak.
Several citizens are suing the textiles plant, and some claim they suffered health problems due to swimming in the river the weekend of the fish kill.
According to Lauren M. Curry, Georgia DNR director of Public and Governmental Affairs, DNR officials will release bluegill, redbreast and largemouth bass. The restocking is not part of the $1 million order against King America Finishing and is not funded by the company.
In an email to local legislators including state Rep. Jan Tankersley, Curry said, “Even though the flow in the Ogeechee River is below average due to the ongoing drought that covers most of the state, there is still ample water to stock one-inch bluegill and redbreast and young of the year largemouth bass.
“In an attempt to optimize stocking results, DNR has decided to do only one day of re-stocking in October,” she said. “A second stocking will be conducted in November or December depending on river flow levels.”
The release will take place around 3 p.m., she said.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.