Heat Wave Causes Fish Kill at Saddle River County Park

By Brenda Flanagan

A fishy carnage choked the pond’s edge in Saddle River County Park where smothered carp baked in the hot sun and hapless park staff collected nets full of fishy corpses for disposal. Be very glad you don’t have smell-o-vision.

“I was wondering what happened because it stinks. I come here every day and this is a first for me,” said Sal Zuccaro of Garfield.

“We smelled the foul smell when we were walking around the edge of the lake. So we were wondering what it was. I didn’t think it could just be the heat that would do this much damage,” said Cne Soukas of Fair Lawn.

County Park Superintendent Todd Cochran pointed out the pond’s only six to eight feet deep, like a shallow pan cooking over high heat. When the fountain that helps aerate the water failed this weekend, the pond’s dissolved oxygen levels tanked.

“So fish are struggling, starving for oxygen. And if the temperatures get so high and the oxygen levels get so low, you have what is commonly known as a fish kill,” Cochran said.

Thousands of fish died. And the prospect of relief looks slim for the near future, Cochran said.

“Until we get some relief from Mother Nature — some lower temps, thunderstorms, some high winds — to introduce some more oxygen, the fish are going to continue to struggle,” he said.

Streets sizzled in Newark, where the temperature hit 96 degrees by mid afternoon. City pools and cooling centers welcomed refugees from a heat wave that’s now expected to blanket New Jersey in sweltering humidity through Friday.

Brad Bradley hung out poolside. He just had a knee replacement.

“I swim laps, when I swim and the hot weather doesn’t bother a person who does laps,” he said.

The heat gets utilities moving too.

“We prepare for temperatures like this all year round and right now we’re really staffed up and prepared to respond to outages,” said PSE&G Spokesperson Brooke Houston.

Jersey power companies reported about 1,000 scattered outages with 200 customers down by midday at PSE&G. The middle screen tracked utility crew responses, while the service map outlined trouble spots. Hot weather usually overheats transformers.

“With extended periods of heat like this they don’t have an opportunity to cool down overnight. So, they get hotter and hotter each day and can malfunction,” Houston said.

PSE&G has got extra trucks out in the field and on call to handle heat-related incidents and the utility says that, with storms in the evening forecast they’ve also brought in extra tree crews.