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500 fish found dead at Rush Run

August 01, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

At least 500 fish, large and small, were found dead Friday morning in the Rush Run creek near the Washington County Sanitary Landfill on Resh Road west of Hagerstown.

Investigators from the Maryland Department of the Environment said they suspect that manure from a farm on Broadfording Road could have washed into the creek about a mile upstream from the landfill.

A leak of low-strength garbage runoff from one unlined landfill cell reported earlier this week was not involved in the fish kill, said Bill Limpert, an MDE district manager. But MDE has directed the landfill to test water upstream and downstream from the landfill to see if any of the leak has reached Rush Run.

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Limpert said levels of dissolved oxygen, which fish need to survive, were low in the area downstream from the farm.

Limpert said it was illegal to discharge manure or other pollutants into public streams and said if the farm was positively identified as the source, the state would work with the county Soil Conservation Service to make sure better management methods were put in place to prevent future problems.

Regional Inspector Richard J. Maurer said all species of fish in the creek, principally suckers, chubs and sculpins, were killed. Dozens were visible along the stream banks, providing a meal for swarms of flies.

Maurer was checking the farm Friday afternoon to investigate the possibility that the source of the fish kill was ongoing, such as from an overflowing manure pit.

Maurer, who covers Western Maryland and is based in Hagerstown, said he's only had to investigate two other fish kills in the past couple of years.

Rush Run is a small creek that flows west into the Conococheague Creek.

Solid Waste Department Operations Manager Steve Zies told the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday about a leak from Cell No. 5, which was built before plastic liners were required. The county plans to spend about $125,000 putting in a pumping station and ditch to contain the leak.

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