Facebook Twitter

PROVO TARGETS SMELLY `FISH BAKE’

SHARE PROVO TARGETS SMELLY `FISH BAKE’

City officials will use a federal grant to keep carp from basking to death along the shores of the Provo River, but they might be too late to prevent the malodorous problem this summer.

In July of 1992, thousands of carp died when they swam upstream from Utah Lake to spawn during the hot summer months in the Provo River and became trapped in deep pools when water receded. Some of the carp died from lack of oxygen and thousands of others were slaughtered by youths with clubs and spears.Dead carp lined the stream banks, and decomposing carcasses created a putrid odor, sending campers and homeowners scrambling. The Division of Wildlife Resources, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and Provo River Water Users Association are the agencies responsible for the river, but city crews removed more than 48 tons of dead carp when the Utah County Health Department declared the area a health hazard.

"I live along the Provo River and, believe me, it was horrible," Councilwoman Shari Holweg said.

Last year, water flow in the river was sufficient to keep the spawning fish alive. But to keep the problem from recurring during low-water years, wildlife officials and the Bureau of Reclamation decided a weir is needed near the mouth of the Provo River. The small dam would keep the large fish from migrating upstream.

However, the June sucker, an endangered fish found primarily in Utah Lake, also spawns in the Provo River. So city engineers designed a weir that can be lowered to allow June suckers upstream and then raised after the suckers have finished their two-month spawning run.

"This is really a handy unit," said Thomas Martin, chief administrative officer.

Fishery biologists also say that in years when the river has adequate water flow, the weir will keep carp out of sensitive spawning areas of the June sucker.

"When carp get up there, they disturb the gravel beds where sucker eggs incubate," said Doug Sakaguchi, habitat biologist with Wildlife Resources.

The weir also will allow biologists to maintain the sucker population by trapping and artificially spawning the fish. Biologists estimate there are about 70 June suckers living in the lake and fewer than 100 in the world.

Construction will begin July 1 and installation will take about two months to complete. With the river flow expected to be low again this year, the July 1992 Provo River fish bake might be repeated one last time.

"It will be a little touch-and-go," said Carl Carpenter, city water engineer. "It might be a little too late to have an impact this year."

The Bureau of Reclamation will finance the portable weir at a price tag of about $54,000, and the structure will be managed by Wildlife Resources.