3 West Valley View, Avondale, Arizona, Friday, April 27, 2012
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GLENDALE RESIDENT MOHAMMED ALGSASSAB surveys some of the hundreds of dead fish in a riparian area along the Gila River on the west side of El Mirage Road, just north of Phoenix International Raceway. The fish were accidentally killed about two weeks ago during efforts to restore the area to a natural riparian habitat.
Habitat restoration results in accidental fish die-off
by Brent Whiting staff writer
The multitude of dead fish and swarms of buzzing flies are sure evidence of a stinky mess in the Tres Rios area near Avondale. The fish, mainly carp with perhaps one or two other species including catfish, inadvertently were killed about two weeks ago because of ongoing restoration efforts to return the area to a natural riparian habitat, a federal official said. One onlooker, a Glendale resident, stopped Tuesday
to survey the scores of dead fish along a river area on the west side of El Mirage Road, just north of Phoenix International Raceway. “This is really terrible,” said Mohammed Algsassab, 39, an immigrant from Iraq. “This is the last place where fish should be turning up dead.” Algsassab said a friend told him about the dead fish in
the Tres Rios, where the Salt, Gila and Agua Fria rivers converge. He said he wanted to stop by and check out the situation for himself. The West Valley View learned about the situation from a reader’s posting on the newspaper’s Facebook page. The Army Corps of Engineers and Phoenix are partners in a $230 million project to restore the Tres Rios area to its native habitat and into wetlands. The fish unintentionally were killed two weeks ago while the contractor was doing some rerouting and backfilling in the existing Gila River channel, said Daniel J. Calderón, a spokesman in Phoenix for the Corps of Engineers. Unfortunately, fish got trapped in what became stagnant water, Calderón said Wednesday. He said scavengers have taken care of many of the dead fish. Now, the contractor is digging a channel so that any
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surviving fish in the pent-up water can find their way back into the main part of the Gila, Calderón said. The recovery work was expected to be completed this week, he added.
Plans were made to remedy the situation after it became apparent to the contractor, Kiewit Pacific Co., that fish had been killed, Calderón said. Joshua Onstott, a project manager for Kiewit, could not be reached for comment. Rory Aikens, a spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said Wednesday that fish such as carp need flowing water to maintain life. If soil gets moved around or if fish are trapped in stagnant water, there is a lack of life-sustaining oxygenation, he said. Aikens also said his agency has received reports of a
“fish die-off” in the Tres Rios area during the past two weeks.
The ongoing Tres Rios Ecosystem Restoration Project was initiated in the 1990s to address three problems: flood control, river and habitat restoration and issues related to effluent, or treated sewer water,
THESE ARE SOME of the fish that were unintentionally killed two weeks ago while a contractor was doing some rerouting and backfilling in the existing Gila River channel, according to a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers. The fish died after being trapped in stagnant water.
being discharged into the Salt River from the Phoenix Wastewater Treatment Plant at 91st Avenue. The Corps of Engineers is in the final stage of a project to remove salt cedar trees, also known as tamarisk, a non- native plant that has choked the river and its banks since being introduced in Arizona in the 1800s. In addition, the goal is to improve and enhance an approximately seven-mile long, 1,500-acre section of the Salt and Gila rivers, including the creation of about 480 acres of wetlands. The goal is to prevent re-growth of salt cedar, provide a wildlife habitat and a clear channel for any flood flows.
year. The entire Tres Rios project is set for completion this
Brent Whiting can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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