State authorities have been investigating two fish kills that happened back in June, but the kills remain a mystery. The first kill took place near Lamont on June 3rd and the second near Tonkawa on June 17th. The kills are likely related and are being investigated as one event.
Fish kills are not uncommon in Oklahoma, especially in the summer. Most of the time the fish kills are caused by low levels of dissolved oxygen, but preliminary tests show plenty of dissolved oxygen in the river.
Droughts also often play a role in fish kills. No rain often cause rivers and lakes to become stagnate. These fish kills, however, happened after rainstorms.
Record-high salt was found in the river. The river is fed by the Great Salt Plains Reservoir, which is flanked by a great salt flat. One possibility is that the rainstorms washed the salt into the river. There is no record of this happening in the past but state agencies said it is possible.
Another source of saltwater in that part of the state is oil and natural gas drilling. However, the chemical composition of the salt contamination doesn’t match the brine from the nearby disposal well. Other disposal wells are being tested.
Residents with water wells nearby have reported problems with their water. It’s unclear if it’s related at this time.
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