What’s going on?
Many people have been reporting seeing a number of dead fish floating in the Bronx River, especially around Starlight and Concrete Plant Parks. While seeing dead fish floating on the river or decomposing on the shore is not a pretty sight, it is not always cause for alarm. Bunker fish, also known as Menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), have recently been seen washing ashore around the region. These fish often are chased by predators, such as Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) and Striped bass (Morone saxatilis), into large schools. When too many fishes are confined in a small, shallow area, they can deplete the Oxygen supply and die from suffocation.
Nutrients (like Nitrogen and Phosphorus) enter the river through a number of different paths, whether directly from storwater outfall pipes or via runoff from fertilized lawns and golf courses. Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) also may be contributing excess nutrients into the river, releasing untreated sewage during heavy rains when the wastewater treatment plants become overwhelmed. Although algal blooms can occur naturally, they are made worse by excess nutrient loading.
What can you do to help?
While there is not much we can do in the short run, we can all play a part by conserving water, especially during rain storms; reducing or elimnating fertilizer applications to lawns; preventing direct dumping into storm drains; supporting a strong Long Term Control Plan for controlling CSOs into the Bronx River; and/or getting involved in one of our water quality monitoring programs as a Citizen Science Steward. You can help us identify problems on the river by continuing to report these observations to us directly.
For more information about water quality of the river, please visit: www.bronxriverwater.org.