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Hundreds of Dead Fish In Katy-area Bayous, Drinking Water Safe


January 27, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

Katy residents can rest easy knowing that multiple, massive fish kills seen across the area do not pose a threat to local drinking water.

Photo credit: Sandra West Olmo

Dead Fish Found in Katy

Katy residents have been reporting large amounts dead fish floating on the water’s surface in parts of Cinco Ranch, Grand Lakes and this morning, in Seven Meadows.

Sandra West Olmo shared a picture last week of a large number of dead fish floating in the Cinco Ranch bayou between Stanley and Shafer elementary schools.

“I’ve lived next to the reserve for about eight years,” says Olmo. “I’ve never seen this, but based on responses, it happens.”

Her post on Facebook sparked concern for the both the fish and the state of the water.

“I don’t know exactly what’s going on here, but we don’t see anything from a water or sewage standpoint,” says Todd Burrer, Vice President, Texas Municipal Utility Districts (MUD).

The dead fish have been identified as tilapia, which are not native to the area. Burrer suggests that the area’s inconsistent temperatures could be to blame. While native species have adapted, the tilapia have not, and this could be why no other species seem to be affected.

“The water is safe,” stresses Burrer. “Actually, the water that people drink and use is coming from underground and not the water that people see.”

Independent poll samples dictated by the State are tested. Samples are continually taken at random and checked. According to Burrer, nothing has come back showing any concern.

“We also keep a check on the local chlorine levels,” says Burrer. “If the chlorine levels are right, then the things that make you sick can’t be there.”

“We put water back into the environment that’s better than what was there to begin with,” explains Barr.

He says that the input of new water can sometimes confuse fish and make them go in the wrong direction. By the time they figure out the mistake they suffocate.

While the case of the mass dying tilapia may be a mystery, Burrer is certain that people don’t need to be concerned with the quality of their water.

“I don’t see anything here that is manmade,” says Burrer. “It’s unfortunate but it happens.”


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