STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - State wildlife agents dropped thousands of small fish into the Ogeechee River after taking them out as eggs months ago. They'd removed them miles upstream from a massive fishkill over the summer. But some environmental watchdogs say the river hasn't been cleaned up enough to drop them here.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper Dianna Weddincamp said she's eager to see the restored to what it was before a massive fishkill in May. But she and others are not ready for the state to drop fish back into the area where so many fish died.
"We're still concerned it's a little early. We want more answers. We haven't really gotten any answers to the public's questions," Weddincamp stated on the banks as she watched DNR agents release hatchlings into the river.
DNR agents say they're acting now because water levels are higher than they've been in months and they think that will improve the fish survival chances.
The release came several miles downstream from a Screven County factory at the heart of the fish controversy. A recent report from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division cited King American Finishing and its permitted discharge pipe into the river as a source of the problem. The report said some of the chemicals the company uses to fireproof certain fabrics contributed to the fishkill.
Jack Hill was among the state senators and representatives on the river banks to observe the release. He feels the restocking is a sign the state will follow through on plans to improve the river.
"This is just one step among several steps to make sure this river is clean and stays clean and make sure the entire ecosystem of the river is looked at," Hill said.
Hill said he and river residents want someone to supervise King America's discharge improvements and not leave the enforcement to the state EPD.
"What we're asking for is third party oversight because nobody's been able to track what's been happening in the past," Hill added.
DNR crews will release more hatchlings of blue gill, redbreast, and largemouth bass in November and December when they hope river levels will be even higher.