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Fish kill has started in River Des Peres and expected to get worse

ST. LOUIS - High temperatures mean a fish kill that’s just begun on the River Des Peres will likely get even worse. The stench is expected to become even more overwhelming.

People who live along the river said it happens once a year or so. They said it’s a smell they never get accustomed to.

“It’s an awful odor and it’s hard to sit outside whenever that happens," said Elizabeth Sergel, who lives near the river.

And it’s already begun. Small fish, maybe a couple inches in length, are dying by the hundreds if not thousands.

“When you’re walking the dog usually you want to be breathing some fresh air you smell it, it’s terrible just dead fish stinky," said Patti Webers, who also lives near the river.

Mother Nature cleans up some of the mess.

“From time to time we see some big birds come in and eat the fish that are down in the river,” Sergel said.

Neighbors expect animals to also eat some of the dead fish. But the problem was only expected to get worse with bigger fish going belly up soon.

“With the water receding and the temperature starting to rise were starting to see more and more fish showing up in the river dead because of the lack oxygen,” said Sean Hadley, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Sewer District.

Earlier this year, people complained about all the trash brought in by floodwaters. Now, it’s the fish.

“We smell the odor each year when that happens,” Sergel said.

MSD and the city and officials are putting together a cleanup day hoping for volunteers to remove much of the trash from the river once it drops lower.

As for the dead fish, it still hasn’t been determined if any agency will handle it. MSD, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and the city are sorting out the dead fish issue.

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