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Nearly 10,000 fish turn up dead at Newville hatchery - abc27 WHTM

Nearly 10,000 fish turn up dead at Newville hatchery

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NEWVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) -

March 1 is the beginning of the season at Green Spring Trout Farms, but right now instead of harvesting, they are doing serious damage control after nearly 10,000 fish mysteriously died.

"I don't think anyone would ever do something like this on purpose," hatchery owner Doug Holt said.

He suspects manure runoff from one of several farms in the Newville area may have seeped into the underground spring that supplies his water. Complicating the issue, he said, is the high amount of limestone in that part of Cumberland County.

"Somebody found a sinkhole with their manure and I don't how much of it had to run in for this to happen, but you know, it's unfortunate."

He's now borrowed about 20 aerators to continually pump water into troughs for his surviving fish, which are swimming in murky water that is normally crystal clear.

"They're actually picking the water up and splashing it back onto the surface of the raceway to add oxygen to increase oxygen levels in the water to keep the fish alive," he said.

The Pa. Department of Environmental Protection is investigating and has run field tests at the North Newton Township farm twice so far. A spokesperson told abc27 they have discovered a definite contamination, but have not yet pin-pointed the source.

Holt said a Shippensburg University professor's tests have already returned a positive result for bacteria found in manure, which makes sense since farmers usually begin spreading in the beginning of March.

Holt said the loss of the fish has already cost him about $20,000, plus fuel and electricity bills are in the hundreds each day. He said he hopes to soon see an end in sight.

"If we can't supply the fish when people want them, they're going to go elsewhere and we lose the business anyway," he said. "So it's kind of a compounded issue."

Holt purchased the farm in 2012, but has worked there for the past 15 years. He said he has never experienced anything like this as long as he's been there.

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