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Mill Creek Stream
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Concrete spill in Mill Creek Stream kills many fish, could cause skin irritations from high pH levels

Photos by Patrick Fink, taken of Mill Creek on Thursday, July 29, 2021.

SALT LAKE CITY– Utah officials are warning residents and pets to avoid Mill Creek due to increased PH levels following a concrete spill. The spill occurred on Thursday just west of I-215 to at least 700 East, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.

UDOT says the higher PH levels can cause skin irritations if humans or pets come in contact with the water. People living nearby need not worry about their drinking water. The Division of Water Quality says storm drainage and drinking water systems are completely separate. 

“We tested the PH levels this morning and the results are higher than normal,” said UDOT in a news conference Friday.

 

The current PH level of the stream has not been released. 

 

Gleason says UDOT is not sure approximately how much material went into the stream or the exact compounds. He hopes to have a better idea as the investigation continues. 

Concrete spill: What to do if you come in contact

Pets and humans who do come in contact with the stream water should monitor their skin for any reaction, such as a rash, said Samantha Heusser, with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Nicholas Rupp with the Salt Lake County Health Department advised flushing your skin and pets’ fur with clean water if you or they make contact. 

Some residents in the area reported scores of dead fish in the creek as a result of the spill. Utah Department of Environmental Quality did confirm a fish kill. However, they’re investigating the magnitude of the kill. Crews will monitor the creek throughout the week to make sure the spill doesn’t hit the Jordan River. 

Clean-up to last through next week

Residents in the area with questions or concerns should call 844-909-3278.

Millcreek officials reported the concrete spill was related to the 1-215 reconstruction project. 

To clean up the spill, crews shut down Virginia Way around 800 South and Upland Dr. in Salt Lake City Thursday night.

Clean-up efforts should be completed by the end of next week, UDOT noted. 

The Utah Division of Water Quality will also be out over the weekend to ensure none of the potentially harmful foam drifts into the Jordan River. 

DWR says there’s been a “pretty significant” fish kill

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says a significant amount of fish have died as a result of the increase in pH levels due to the spill, but they don’t know exactly how many fish yet.

“We don’t have the exact numbers yet but we estimate, like from past surveys, the densities of fish in this area are roughly 500 catchable trout per mile,” said DWR Spokeswoman Faith Heaton Jolley.

As of Friday afternoon, she said the spill had largely impacted fish above 2000 East.

“We’re still working to determine the total impacts.” Heaton Jolley said.

“It does appear that these two species, the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, which is native, and our Brown Trout have been impacted.” Heaton Jolley said.

The DWR said the spill, coupled with other stressors like low, warm water levels due to drought had a significant impact on fish in this area.

They don’t think the spill will have impacts to fishing in general, but Heaton Jolley said if you caught a fish in the area above the spill and think it might be contaminated, don’t eat it.

 

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