Fish are dying at Indian Creek Reservoir |

Fish are dying at Indian Creek Reservoir

Andy Bourelle

Hundreds of dead fish have turned up at Indian Creek Reservoir over the past few weeks, and officials are not sure why.

“We’re looking into possible causes. It can be a number of different factors. Right now we just don’t have any clear answers,” said Stafford Lehr, fisheries biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game. “The kill is rather significant. The numbers are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of chubs. I would say a couple of rainbow trout have died.”

Indian Creek Reservoir, a popular Alpine County fishing spot, is a man-made reservoir south of Lake Tahoe. The South Tahoe Public Utility District in the past pumped its recycled wastewater to it. Since 1989, the district pumps the water to nearby Harvey Place Reservoir. However, STPUD still pays to stock the Indian Creek Reservoir, diverts water from Indian Creek and the West Fork of the Carson River to fill it and operates an aeration system to keep the lake habitable to fish.

STPUD has performed water-quality tests, and Fish and Game and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board are investigating what could be causing the deaths.

Lehr said the deaths are “puzzling” because the problem is primarily affecting tui chubs. If it was a lakewide problem, all the fish likely would be affected.

One possibility, Lehr said, is a problem with the water quality near the reservoir’s shores. Tui chubs, which are small fish in the minnow family, are spawning right now in the shoreline weed beds. The trout are in open-water areas.

The first reported sighting of the dead fish was Memorial Day weekend. Fish have died at least as recently as last week.

The reservoir remains open to the public.

Lehr said he had no estimation of when officials could determine the reason for the fish kill.

According to STPUD, tests are conducted at the reservoir on a monthly basis, and there has been nothing extraordinary in the results. The last round was taken June 8.

“Everyone’s concerned, but nobody’s getting overly excited, because they’re waiting to see what kind of results come in,” said Hal Bird, Alpine County land manager for STPUD.

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