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Swim advisory lifted for Ogeechee River
Consumption advisory still in effect
052511 FISH KILL 02
Ogeechee Riverkeeper Dianna Wedincamp collects a dead fish Wednesday on the Ogeechee River while investigating the recent fish kill. (Scott Bryant)

A massive fish kill affecting 40 miles of the Ogeechee River was caused by a bacterial disease induced by environmental stress, environmentalists said Thursday.

Some questions still linger about what caused the environmental stress, but by Friday, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) decided to lift the advisory on swimming in the river.

However, a fish consumption advisory for the river will remain for Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham and Screven counties pending results of fish tissue analysis, which aren’t expected until next week.

“Based on the EPA data, we are confident the swim advisory is no longer appropriate,” said Jim Ussery, assistant EPD director. “The EPA analysis did not detect any chemical substances in the water at unsafe levels.”

The water samples were taken from the river at three locations in Screven County and at a fourth location where Hwy.119 crosses the river between Bulloch and Effingham counties.

An advisory recommending people not swim in the river was posted last weekend after dead fish began appearing in Screven and Bulloch counties. The advisory also applied to citizens in Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties as more dead fish were found downstream.

EPD announced Thursday that the fish died of columnaris, a bacterial disease caused by environmental stress.

“The cause of the environmental stress is still unknown,” said Kevin Chambers, an EPD spokesman.

Read more in the May 28 edition of the News.

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