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Questions About Aluminum and Fish Kills on Sam Rayburn


Designated Use Standards revision for Sam Rayburn which will enforce a reduction to Low and Intermediate Aquatic Life Designation Use Standards for Sam Rayburn – dependent upon season?  If the answer is yes how can the public and the pro-bass fishing organizations help oppose the proposed revision?  What is the TPWD plan on this issue?  Will TPWD issue a “press release” calling attention to this issue and making recommendations?  

      Has TPWD been aware that TNRCC effluent discharge records show Aluminum discharges approximately five times greater than the TNRCC Final Permit Effluent Limitations were released into the Rayburn watershed during the months of  June, July and August of 1998.  These discharges preceded the fish kill and followed the sale of Champion Paper Co. to Donohue.  Has TPWD determined that the “Acute” concentrations of Aluminum and “Chronic” concentrations of Lead, and other impairments existing in Rayburn, as documented in the TNRCC 303d Impaired Waters List, 2000, were not contributing to “stress” the bass population and were not      contributing factors to the 1998 fish kill episode on Sam Rayburn?   3)      With consideration of question number 2, will TPWD explain why Angler Induced Stress, elevated temperature induced stress, spawn induced stress were offered in press releases as likely causes of the fish “die-offs” on Rayburn and Fork but water quality was not?

      TNRCC added new sampling stations on Rayburn a few months ago. It is assumed that not enough data has been obtained from the new sampling stations to incorporate any knowledge obtained by analysis of data from the new stations.  Is this a valid assumption?  Assuming that data has been acquired at these new stations – what has TNRCC learned from data acquired at these new locations and what does TNRCC expect to learn from analysis of data from the new locations?  

The phrase “exceed criteria established to safeguard general water quality use” is used to describe conditions in the TNRCC Impaired Waters List 303d prepared by TNRCC that describes Impairments on both Lake Fork and Lake Rayburn. . What does this mean?  Specifically, what is meant by “general water quality use”?

LMBV has been found in  Florida, Northern and Interbreed fish specimens.  Is there a significant difference in disease resistance?  Is one genetic strain more able to ward off disease than another - although they are all LMBV carriers?  

7)      Is any organization actively pursuing, collating and disseminating questions, answers and information on an inter-state basis for the purpose of establishing a common thread or link between the fish kill episodes in which the Virus has been detected? If  there is such an organization who and where is it and how may they be contacted? If there isn’t; why doesn’t this get some priority?

      Recognize that I am not sure what specific word TNRCC uses to describe waste water facility operations in which water quality parameters are outside the bounds of waste water permit limitations.  Never the less, numerous, exceptions, (exceedances?), (violations?) of waste water permit limitations have occurred in the watershed of Sam Rayburn during 1998 and exceptions and have also occurred with less frequency in 1999. Have there been a significant number of waste water permit violations occurring in the other watersheds in which the LMBV has been found and associated with fish disease and kills?  What agency and what records or reports are available that can address this question?    9)      How many of the bodies of water in which the LMBV has been associated with disease and death have experienced diminished aquatic vegetation concurrent with the fish kill episode other than Lakes Fork & Rayburn?  10)  How many of the bodies of water which have experienced fish kill episodes associated with the LMBV have watersheds having larger tracts of commercial timber interests or agricultural interests?  Is there a pesticide link?  11)  How many of the bodies of water which have experienced fish kill episodes associated with the LMBV have large scale concentrated animal or poultry production activities in the watersheds?  12)  How many of the bodies of water which have experienced fish kills have water quality problems?  Is the presence of the LMBV in diseased and dying fish the principal cause of the disease and death. Recognizing that many bass populations carry the virus with no ill effects does TPWD have knowledge of anyone working to determine the factors common to the fish kill episodes other than the presence of a virus.  13)   What has TPWD done to ensure that the largemouth bass virus has been eradicated from the Athens and Jasper TPWD hatcheries?  What steps have been taken to prevent another LMBV infestation?

 >The 1999 fall TPWD Electrofishing catch on Sam Rayburn was only 57% of the fall 1998 catch. The fall TPWD 1999 Electrofishing catch on Fork was only 47 % of the fall 1998 catch. A TPWD press release head line rea; “TPW Surveys Reveal No Damage to Fisheries from Bass Virus”.  The press release also said that the surveys indicated stable bass populations. If the observed, actual decrease in TPWD electrofishing catches was not attributable to the virus what was it attributed to and why wasn’t it mentioned?  In TPWD judgement, what percentage change in catch numbers would indicate an unstable bass population?   How can the press release statement of a “decrease in small and intermediate size bass”, the above quoted headline, and a TPWD memorandum written in response to questions on Rayburn stating; “On a positive note, TPW surveys in the fall of 1999 showed dramatic increases in numbers of small to intermediate size bass in this population, and the outlook on this reservoir is good”, be reconciled?  Which statement is correct? At every launch site on Rayburn there is a sign warning the public of underwater  hazards and  recommending caution in boat operation, etc. In 1998 and 1999 there was at least one sewage treatment facility that commonly operated outside the permit limits. Discharges from this facility and other facilities with poor records are within a few hundred yards of designated swimming areas. In the past, TNRCC water quality assessments have identified elevated Fecal Coliform Bacteria levels for some portions of Sam Rayburn.   Why haven’t warning signs been erected to inform the public of the health hazard created by swimming, water skiing, etc in contaminated water?  What has been done to notify the public of the health hazard?    17)  Donohue has been granted tax abatements.  How many years will these tax abatements be in affect?  What it is the total dollar value of these abatements? 

What is the total dollar value of campaign funding of any form that Donohue or Lobbyists, etc have provided to politicians?

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