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Hundreds of fish found dead in Shoal Creek after waterline break

A dead fish on the shore of a creek
letMeBeFranks via Reddit
A fish is found dead along the shore of Shoal Creek on Wednesday.

Update: Austin's Watershed Protection Department told KUT in an email Friday that staff have found about 300 dead fish now. "Last night's storm pushed debris in the creek, along with the fish, toward an inlet where staff were able to see the full extent of the spill impact," the email said. The department said crews would clean up the area this weekend and that the city and government agencies have been updated.

Our original story follows:

Dozens of fish were found dead in Shoal Creek on Wednesday after a waterline break.

A Reddit post speculated construction discharge killed the fish, but city officials confirmed the waterline break and said it released chlorinated drinking water, which is harmful to aquatic life.

Officials with Austin Water said the pipe – near the intersection of Shoal Creek and Bull Creek boulevards – has since been repaired. Officials don't know what caused the break.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the city’s Watershed Protection Department surveyed the water Wednesday and found about 30 dead fish downstream from the waterline break and noted the water's cloudy, muddy appearance.

In a joint statement to KUT, Austin Water and WPD said staff responded as soon as they could.

“Before the water could be valved off and the flow stopped, AW initiated de-chlorination steps to minimize direct impacts to the aquatic habitat,” the statement said. “While water is safe for human consumption and contact, chlorinated water is impactful to aquatic life.”

The agencies said the creek’s cloudy appearance will remain for the next few days while particles settle.

WPD said it will continue to monitor the creek’s conditions over the next few days. It asks folks to report pollution concerns to the city's 24/7 hotline at 512-974-2550.

Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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