AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dead fish littered the shoreline of Shoal Creek in central Austin, and several others were spotted floating in the water Tuesday, according to photos from a KXAN viewer. The water in the creek has also turned green in spots.
Officials tell KXAN it’s because of a drinking water main break.
The TCEQ Austin region said it learned about a water discharge into the creek on March 14. A 12-inch water main broke near Shoal Creek Boulevard and Bull Creek Road. TCEQ crews responded to the area on March 15 and noted the dead fish and unclear water conditions.
Crews repaired the pipe on the morning of March 15. The Austin region will monitor the creek until it returns to normal.
KXAN started looking into this issue after getting an email a viewer sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a statement from City of Austin Watershed Protection Department:
Austin Water (AW) responded yesterday, March 14th, to a major waterline break in Shoal Creek, near the intersection of Shoal Creek Blvd. and Bull Creek Blvd. As routine during any major line break near waterways, the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department (WPD) supported the main break by investigating the creek. Similar to heavy rain, the pressurized water leaving the water main can result in a cloudy or muddy appearance of the water in Shoal Creek. These fine, suspended particles will settle out over the next few days. Before the water could be valved off and the flow stopped, AW initiated de-chlorination steps to minimize direct impacts to the aquatic habitat. WPD staff walked the creek and observed approximately thirty dead fish along the banks, downstream from the waterline break. While water is safe for human consumption and contact, chlorinated water is impactful to aquatic life.
The appropriate State agencies, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), were notified. TCEQ and WPD met onsite today, March 15th, for a briefing and observation of the creek.
The water main repairs were completed yesterday, March 14th, but backfilling of the trench and support to the repaired main were ongoing as of 10:00 am on March 15th, with no additional impacts to Shoal Creek expected. WPD continues to monitor conditions at Shoal Creek.-City watershed protection department spokesperson
The Austin Watershed Department also told KXAN the drinking water that spilled into the creek contained chlorine, and that’s what killed the fish. A spokesperson added their workers’ de-chlorination efforts helped remove residual chlorine and likely prevented a larger fish kill.