W 2800.3 P438
F-78-R-1 2/08-12/10 c.1
FINAL PERFORMANCE REPORT
FEDERAL AID GRANT NO. F-78-R-l
ASSESSING FRESHWATER POLLUTION INCIDENTS AND
SPORT FISH KILLS DUE TO NATURAL AND
! OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
FEBRUARY 1,2008 through DECEMBER 31,2010
FINAL PERFORMANCE REPORT
State: Oklahoma Grant Number: F-78-R-l
Grant Program: Sport Fish Restoration
Grant Title: Assessing Freshwater Pollution Incidents and Sportfish Kills Due to
Natural and Anthropogenic Causes
Grant Period: February 1, 2008 - December 31, 2010
Project Leader: William Ray
I. Project Objective:
To assess and document potential threats, sportfish kills, associated habitat damages, and/or
actual pollution events.
II. Summary of Progress
Historically, fish kills have been a consequence of localized ecological damage, and have caused
significant recreational and economic losses to sport fish in Oklahoma reservoirs and rivers. In
some cases, pollution that caused fish kills has been a factor in the consideration and/or issuance
of human consumption advisories. Fish kills continue to occur and require an Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) response.
Fish kills can result in significant ecological, recreational and economic impacts, and thus the
need to document such cases is imperative. Fish kills are usually indicators of localized aquatic
conditions that damage ecological communities and systems. Mortality and injury to sport
fish can result from both anthropogenic activities and natural causes. Human-induced fish kills
are usually the result of pollutant discharges or physical changes in the ecosystem such as
dewatering and habitat alterations. Negative effects to sport fish due to natural causes may
include low dissolved oxygen, lack of water, extreme temperatures, disease, parasites, nuisance
species and toxin producing algal blooms.
In order to adequately assess damages caused from human actions and natural causes, laboratory
and technical procedures must be implemented that include standardized methods for
investigating sport fish kills and assessing damages to natural resources the sport fish rely on for
reproductive viability and survival. Laboratory services, development and implementation of
standardized fish kill investigation protocols, database management procedures, and appropriate
training for all involved personnel are necessary to achieve the goals set forth in the agency's
mission statement and state and federal statutes.
Proactive approaches may include cooperation with other resource agencies, regulatory agencies,
or interested parties to identify sportfish concerns and reduce the risk of potential impacts
through education and information. Sportfish concerns can be factored into several state
permitting processes by ensuring that the state's water quality standards adequately consider the
needs of sportfish habitat as well as the formation of working groups that actively address issues
related to nuisance species and their effect on sportfish populations (i.e., golden alga blooms).
Some approaches will require both reactive and proactive responses, which include database
management and training. Future trends that could affect the overall health of sportfish may
include continued loss of habitat and an increase in potential for short and long term pollution.
The use of both approaches will help to elucidate existing and potential threats to ecological
communities and systems while providing resolutions that are consistent with the state and
The following activities are necessary in order to carry out the project's objective. Such
activities will be implemented by Fisheries Division personnel, other ODWC staff, or other
contract service providers as deemed necessary by the primary investigator.
1) Implement laboratory analyses for water quality and fish tissue analyses. Such
analyses will be used to determine the cause of a fish kill and environmental trends and/or
gradients that could result in sportfish injury or mortality. Laboratory analyses will be
accomplished by both ODWC personnel and through cooperative agreements and contracts with
other agencies, universities or contractors.
2) Develop and implement standardized investigative protocols. These protocols will
provide guidance to ODWC personnel concerning standard operating procedures for fish kills.
The protocol will address emergency response protocol, call down procedures, investigative
techniques, equipment and supplies, chain of custody for laboratory analysis, forms, database
requirements, valuation of fish kills and final incident reports.
3) Establish a fish kill database. The database will include specific information related to
each case such as temporal and spatial information that will enable a more efficient utilization of
4) Cooperate with state, federal and other entities. As a result of major or chronic fish
kills caused from nuisance species, disease, parasitism, natural resource damages, and habitat
alteration, interagency cooperation and working groups will be essential as issues arise that need
a unified response.
5) Train personnel in fish kill response. Training opportunities will include correct
identification of the causative agent and assessment of monetary values associated with injuries
to sportfish and related habitat.
The ODWC has successfully worked with other state regulatory agencies on various issues
related to water quality and fish kills across the state. ODWC staff coordinated with the
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) on two kill complaints in Oklahoma
City metro area and conducted investigations to determine cause of fish mortality.
Fisheries Division staff investigated multiple fish kills resulting in death or impacts to sport fish
species throughout Oklahoma. Staff investigated a fish kill on the Deep Fork River resulting
from an oil spill and coordinated with ODEQ and Corporation Commission on clean-up actions.
ODWC coordinated with ODEQ and ODWC Law Enforcement personnel regarding fish kill at
the Enid wastewater treatment plant. Environmental Program staff consulted with SW Regional
fisheries biologists, ODEQ, and Caddo County game warden on a fish kill near Cyril and
investigated a fish kill at residential a pond in Oklahoma City. Additionally, Environmental
Program staff coordinated with regional fisheries biologists on fish kills in Lake Lawtonka,
Hudson Lake, and at Johnson's Pond in Moore and assisted numerous landowners with questions
and concerns regarding fish kill on or adjacent to private property.
Equipment was purchased to be used in fish kill investigations including handheld GPS units,
D.O. meters, and a digital camera. This equipment is used by regional fisheries biologist and
technicians to collect accurate data needed to properly assess the causes of fish kills within their
ODWC and state fish kill investigation protocols were discussed and reviewed with ODEQ and
contact information was updated for response actions. Coordination continued with Oklahoma
Fisheries Research Lab on development and design of an SQL database for fish kill
investigations than occur within Oklahoma.
Consultation was made with the USFWS about conducting fish kill training for ODWC and
additional appropriate state personnel and internal revisions continued of fish kill investigation
The ODWC has successfully participated in several fish kill investigations across the state and
continues to improve coordination between various state and federal agencies to better address
and access the ecological, recreational and economic impacts on the aquatic community.
An ODWC manual addressing standard operating procedures for investigations offish kill events
is undergoing revisions and internal review. This manual will serve as the ODWC guidance
document providing procedures for conducting and documenting responses to future fish kill
event. It will also direct ODWC field staff and improve effectiveness and consistency in fish kill
investigations. Upon approval by administrative staff, this document will be distributed to field
staff. Coordination continues with USFWS staff at the National Conservation Training Center to
try to schedule statewide training for this upcoming year (2011). Through updating contacts and
additional coordination efforts, progress continues to be made in synergizing Oklahoma state
agencies, interstate agencies and federal agencies. This will provide an effective mechanism for
responding to pollution events causing fish kills. As a result, the ODWC was able to respond to
potential and/or substantial environmental threats with confidence and credibility.
Continue to assess and document potential and actual sport fish kills.
III. Significant Deviations: None
Prepared by: _
William Ray, Environmental Biologist
/,Oklahoma Department of ildlife Conservation
Federal Aid Coordinator
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
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