Thursday, September 23, 2004

Warning: Don't eat the fish

Lakes on future Indian Hill park site have mercury

By Sheila McLaughlin
Enquirer staff writer

INDIAN HILL - Gravel-pit lakes at a future park here continue to show elevated levels of mercury, city officials said Wednesday.

But that won't spoil plans to open the lakes for boating and angling once the park is developed on Ohio 126.

Just don't eat the fish, officials said. They'll post signs to that effect at Grand Valley when the park opens for fishing, City Manager Mike Burns said.

"The village believes the correct and most conservative action is to continue its current policy of permitting only catch-and-release fishing at the Grand Valley site," he said.

The city ordered a second round of tests in June to determine the accuracy of initial tests taken at the site in April. Early samples indicated that mercury levels in some lakes were higher than standards for drinking water, and in two cases, unsafe for aquatic life.

Officials said the latest results were consistent with the first.

Fish advisories are common in local and national lakes, rivers and streams. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency currently advises eating no more than one weekly serving of sport fish from all water bodies in the state because of mercury or PCB content. Several local waters, including the Little Miami River, are even more restricted for certain fish species.

Ohio EPA also suggested that Indian Hill step up monitoring of its drinking water because the lakes sit on top of the aquifer that feeds city wells. Samples from the wells in July showed no lead or mercury levels, city waterworks superintendent Jim Fox said.

The agency also sidelined an investigation into the possibility that lead may be on the site because a shooting range may have operated on the site until the 1970s. There was no clear evidence of a range in aerial photographs, but the investigation could be reopened if new information surfaces, spokeswoman Heather Lauer said.


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