Another mercury alert • Lake Powell and Quail Creek Reservoir in Washington County are the latest Utah waters where people are being advised to limit their consumption of the local fish because they are contaminated with methylmercury. The new advisories apply to striped bass caught south of Dangling Rope Marina in Lake Powell and largemouth bass caught anywhere in Quail Creek Reservoir. Pregnant women and children under 6 should eat no more than one 4-ounce serving per month. Women of childbearing age and children from 6 to 16 should limit consumption to two 8-ounce servings per month. Others should have no more than eight 8-ounce servings in a month. This makes 21 Utah waters now under advisories. Methylmercury is a neurotoxin that builds up in the food chain. The suspected sources are coal-fired power plants and gold processors in Nevada. Recreation in these waters is not deemed to be hazardous to humans. But from the standpoint of widespread contamination of the ecosystem, that's not reassuring.
Fish kill • The federal Bureau of Reclamation has created many of the blue-ribbon trout fisheries in Utah in the cold waters below its dams. So it's ironic that the BOR killed thousands of fish downstream of Scofield Reservoir when it shut water off for three days to work on a spillway. A fisheries manager for the state Division of Wildlife Resources says that the fish kill might have been mitigated had the BOR shut the water off more gradually, giving fish a chance to move to deep pools in Lower Fish Creek. Apparently, the BOR didn't notify the DWR of the shutoff, either. Trout and other species may not recover in the stream for many years. What a shame.