State Probes Fish Die-Off in Ramapo River Area

Monday, March 26, 2012


New York State environmental officials are investigating what caused the die-off earlier of hundreds of fish in waterways in the Rockland County portion of Sterling Forest earlier this month.

A spokesperson for the State Department of Environmental Conservation says the agency is looking into a potential link between the die-off and the operation of a nearby municipal mulch facility run by the town of Tuxedo. "We did test the water and it had low dissolved oxygen which was the source of the fish kill," DEC spokeswoman Wendy Rosenbach said.

Rosenbach confirmed that Tuxedo paid a $25,000 fine related to its operation of the mulch and compost site, and that the municipality entered into a consent decree with the DEC and is working to get the facility into compliance with state regulations.

Geoff Welch with the Ramapo River Committee says the municipal mulch site has been controversial with local residents who think its operation should not have been permitted so close to the wetlands that are part of the waterway system hit by the fish die-off. Welch says the die off came after the local water culverts were cleaned out.

 "That effluent came down and zapped the oxygen and killed fish along a stretch of several miles at least. It also probably released decomposed algae  and eutrophic water with no oxygen,” Welch said.

A call to the Town of Tuxedo for comment was not returned.

Back in the 1990s New York State set aside more than 17,000 acres of Sterling Forest to preserve the  Highlands as well as to protect the headwaters of the Ramapo River. The Ramapo serves as a major drinking water source for both New York and New Jersey. 



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Comments [5]

Mike from Oakland, NJ

Are the Ramapo fish in Oakland, NJ safe to eat?


Apr. 09 2012 10:55 PM
Ed from Tuxedo, NY

Check out the YouTube video on the Tuxedo Mulch Pile!

It's Called "Mulch Pile The Movie"

Apr. 05 2012 09:16 PM
Dennis Trotter

I am deeply saddened to hear of the fouling of the creek and resulting fish kill in Tuxedo. While I don't reside in the area (yet), it is my weekend getaway. We are blessed to have the protected land of Sterling Forest and surrounding park land to retreat to. Thanks to the environmentalists who exposed the problem. The mulch has got to go,now! I will be looking to see what the town will do about it.

Mar. 28 2012 05:21 PM
Suzanne Daycock

Great story on an important issue. Glad that you guys are covering it!

Mar. 28 2012 12:21 PM
Geoff Welch from Sloatsburg, NY

Thanks very much for the coverage! One correction, the fish kill was in Tuxedo, in Orange County, New York. The DEC regional Director has agreed to meet with us as we await the test results. This topic and others will be covered at the 17th Annual Ramapo River Watershed Conference on Friday April 27 at Ramapo College, 10:00am - 4:00pm. Its been the most active year along the Ramapo with tropical storm Irene, major fuel tanks spills, the Metro-North tracks washing out in the Ramapo Pass (they are repaired now at a near 40 million dollar cost) There were other storms so we have experienced repeated flooding. Many fallen trees are in the river. Is the infrastructure along the Ramapo Watershed up to global warming with its more frequent and intense storms? Large areas of Ford Motor Company paint sludge await cleanup in Torne Valley. While the cleanup may begin in October, Ford have not yet agreed to replant decent-sized trees. Recently Chuck stead and Ramapo College Students found more toxic Ford paint sludge along the bank of the Ramapo River near Pubic Water Wells.

Mar. 27 2012 05:07 PM

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