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Golden algae kills Altus fish

Altus_The City of Altus is telling its residents not to eat fish from the city's reservoir.  Due to golden algae, piles of dead fish are lining the shore in an area where a lot of people fish.  This year, the algae is releasing toxins that are killing the fish, and it has spread through the entire reservoir.  The good news is that the water is only used for emergency water supply needs. 

This has happened a few times before, and the city thought they got it all cleared up in 2004.  But, it came back in 2006, and residents say it's even worse this time.  Fishermen still are braving the stench and flies caused by the rotting fish for a little sport fishing.  "I've been out here quite a bit this week...I've caught a few catfish, I caught a 74 pounder the other day out here," said one fisherman.

Despite the fact that the city has warned its residents that the water is contaminated with golden algae, and that the fish are toxic, some are taking their chances and eating them.  Residents say they're less concerned about eating the fish, and more concerned about the odor it may cause once temperatures begin to rise.

City Officials say algae won't harm other animals in the area, and there is no need to worry about pets.  The drinking water is still safe since it doesn't come from this particular reservoir.  "Just for fishing, wildlife, recreation and of course as an emergency water supply for the City of Altus," says Water Treatment Supervisor Gene Leister.  

But, Leister says there is a concern that the golden algae quickly could spread to another water source.  "It's very, very easy to spread - that's the one thing," he says.  "I'd like to encourage anglers that, you know, you need to really be careful about lake to lake transfer.  Always sanitize your fishing equipment, minnow buckets, boats, things like that."

Again, The City of Altus is asking its residents not to eat fish from the city reservoir.  Fishing will continue to be permitted, but don't take any chances with eating the catch.  Officials aren't sure how the algae spread through the reservoir, but could have been introduced by migratory birds or fish.  The only way to get rid of the algae is to treat the water is with chemicals.

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