Broad River Greenway, Thursday August 13, 2015: After leaving a vehicle down at the Dravo Dam on the Broad River near Gaffney, South Carolina, I took my son Robbie to the Broad River Greenway to put in his kayak for a day of fishing and bald eagle watching along the river and back down to the Dravo Dam in South Carolina. The trip by water is estimated to be eight to ten miles and covers the two states.
As we were unloading my son’s kayak, food and his fishing supplies, a Greenway Park Ranger came by and alerted us that many dead catfish were floating in the water for a couple of miles upstream and downstream of the Greenway. The Ranger opined that a source of the fish kill might be the Cliffside Duke Power Plant just upstream of the Greenway. My son, being an avid fisherman, didn’t think much about the warning.
When we carried the kayak down to the water’s edge we did notice numerous dead catfish on the riverbank and on rocks. I noticed the river current was near the shore and probably the bulk of the dead fish there had been swept away from that particular location. My son got into his kayak, pushed off and was soon in the middle of the river and off on his adventure. The day was sunny and nice. My son took no cell phone to interrupt his day on the river. I went home.
Later that night, after my son had reached the Dravo dam, loaded his kayak and came home, it was a different story. Small catfish from pinky finger size to forearm size were belly up in the river. The river all the way from the Greenway where he put in, across the South Carolina line and down to the Dravo Dam were full of dead catfish. And ONLY young catfish. My son caught a number of large mouth bass, small mouth bass and saw a bunch of carp jumping. He took pictures of the fish he caught and then released the fish back into the contaminated water. He had no answer about why only catfish, and young catfish at that, were being killed.
The “whole river stunk from all the dead fish.” my son reported. “If you (me) hadn’t left the Greenway, I would have paddled back up the river and come straight home.” “Every river bank, every rock, every snag hanging in the river was covered in dead catfish or had dead catfish pushed up against them in the hundreds.” My son estimated thousands, tens of thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands of dead catfish were belly up in and along the miles of river. Stinking to high heaven all the way to the Dravo dam.
So, the next day (today), I called Cleveland County officials to inform them of the fish kill. I looked over the list of county departments and couldn’t figure out who to call, so I called the County Manager’s office and informed the County Clerk, Henry Earle, who answered the phone about the major fish kill on the Broad River. Henry said he had not heard about it but would pass the information along to the proper authorities. I asked Henry to inform me regarding what was found.