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Stinky Lakes Due To Natural 'Fish Kills'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - It's a smell that comes with warmer temperatures and increased algae in the water.

It's also something you can see: dead fish floating on all the lakes in Minnesota.

The experts call it a "fish kill," and it has many wondering is the water safe.

Dawn Summers of Minneapolis Park and Recreation says that this is a common occurrence.

"This has occurred every year in our system for as long as anyone can remember," Summers said.

It can be hard during this time of year to enjoy the beautiful view from our chain of lakes because of the smell and sight of dead fish.

"The best thing about the chain of lakes is also the reason people see it. We have trails around every one of our…lakes," Summers said. "So unfortunately for us when we have this really natural, common, reoccurring situation, everyone sees it. And occasionally they smell it when the temperatures get high."

According to the DNR, oxygen depletion can be a factor contributing to fish kill in all lakes across Minnesota.

Heavy rains cause unusual high runoff from fertilized lawns, gold courses and farm fields. That runoff carries nutrients into the lakes.

When combined with hot weather, it can accelerate the growth of algae. And when it gets hot, the algae decompose, and the fish die.

"Typically our crews are on it, so by the time the 7 a.m. runners see it, by 8 o'clock it's gone," she said. "This year our crews are really, really busy still cleaning up the parks from the storm damage from last weekend."

Minneapolis Park and Recreation workers will get to the dead fish once all the debris from the storm is gone.

Until then, a little smell and sight of dead fish should not stop anyone from enjoying the water.

"It's okay to fish, it's okay to swim, it's okay to eat the catfish that you catch. We don't recommend any one taking the dead fish, obviously. But the water is fine," Summers said.

Minneapolis Park Board is going beyond what they've done in the past to ensure the water is safe. They are working with the DNR, and their experts will conduct "fish autopsies" to make sure the fish kill is a natural occurrence as it has been in the past.

Results are expected sometime next week.

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