Thousands of dead fish found near creek off Memphis Drive in Chattanooga Thursday

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) says the dead fish aren't a threat to the public. (Image: WTVC)


Tennessee Valley Authority says that the sudden temperature changes are the reason thousands of dead fish have been found in several areas of Chattanooga Thursday.

The TVA says there is no threat to the public, as the fish are shad.

Justin Holland, Public Works Administrator for the City of Chattanooga, released the following statement Thursday:

"The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is presently investigating the cause of the large numbers of dead fish seen in a wet weather conveyance that runs into the Tennessee River. At this point, officials believe that the cause is related to weather occurrences earlier this week, including recent increases in the water temperature and rainfall levels that are higher than normal.

Threadfin shad is a breed that is very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, and recent warming trends may have depleted their oxygen levels beyond the point where they could survive. There are large numbers of dead threadfin shad throughout the region and we consider this to be a natural event outside of our control.

The City of Chattanooga will continue to remain in touch with our partners at TWRA and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) about this occurrence. We will provide additional information about what happened if it becomes available."

Depend on us to keep you posted.


Authorities are investigating after thousands of dead fish were found in a creek off of Memphis Drive Thursday.

Right now, it's not clear what killed the fish, but the neighborhood has had a history of sewer problems. We spoke with residents in the area last May. They told us they were disgusted by the constant sewer overflow. They say sometimes the smell from the pump station on their street is so bad they can't even sit outside. The neighborhood is flanked by DuPont Parkway, the old DuPont Chemical Plant, and North Access Road off of Hixson Pike. The creek flows south into the nearby Tennessee River.

Reporter Hannah Lawrence was on the scene of where the dead fish are on Thursday, and says that she saw some of the fish still flopping around.

Richard Simms, who regularly contributes to our section, is on the scene and identifies them as threadfin chad, which he calls a "very sensitive fish."

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) says threadfin shad live in lakes, larger rivers, and reservoirs. It says while this fish may not be native to any portion of Tennessee, they have been widely introduced into reservoirs, and lakes as a forage species. Threadfin shad feed on plankton and are common in all major rivers and reservoirs. They range in size from 1-6 inches.

We saw TWRA officers on the scene inspecting the area, and also a member of the City of Chattanooga's Water Quality Team.

Back in May of 2017, Chattanooga's Director of Waste Water Resources told us the city had started a sewer rehabilitation project in 2016 to reline the pipes and prevent future spills. He says it will also install a $7.5 million gallon storage tank to capture any overflow. Together, they will cost about $13 million.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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