- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

CODY, Wyo. (AP) - Repair work on the Wildwood Dam has killed trout and other fish on the Shoshone River.

The reservoir was drained last week to make way for the repairs on the nearly 100-year-old Willwood Dam northeast of Cody. Sediment flowed downstream of the dam, killing the fish almost immediately.

“We knew there was going to be an increase in turbidity,” said Jason Burckhardt, a fisheries biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “What’s going on now is outside the realm of turbidity. This is slurry.”

Burckhardt said cutthroat, brown and rainbow trout as well as whitefish and suckers have all been found washed up along the river.

State environmental officials are investigating to determine whether any violations occurred. DEQ spokesman Keith Guille said that the turbidity waiver does not allow for sedimentation releases so extensive they would result in fish kills.

“We take very seriously a loss of fish and this amount of sediment (released) from Willwood Dam,” said David Waterstreet, DEQ program manager for the Watershed Protection Program.

Willwood Irrigation District manager Todd Singbeil said the reservoir was drained to protect the safety of workers, and that he’s confident the silt will be flushed out soon.

“The safety of the contractors is more important than the fish,” Singbeil said.

Singbeil said the irrigation district had looked into removing some of the sediment before the drawdown, but the $5.6 million price tag was too much.

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Information from: The Cody Enterprise, http://www.codyenterprise.com

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