Thousands of fish killed by pump failure at Thermalito hatchery

February 10, 2017 - Fish evacuated from Feather River Hatchery

OROVILLE, Calif. - The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) estimates between 200,000 and 300,000 fall-run Chinook salmon were killed early Wednesday because of a pump failure at the Feather River Fish Hatchery - Thermalito Facility.

The pump failure was caused by a faulty wire. CDFW officials say the primary pump that supplies water to the facility failed between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Workers noticed dead fish around 6:30 a.m. in the raceways. They say it was because of a lack of oxygen levels in the water.

Workers began supplying extra oxygen while CDFW and Department of Water Resources crews repaired the pump to resume water flow. In response to the failure, they began to develop redundancy measures to prevent a similar event in the future.

Early estimates show up to 300,000 fish were killed because of the failure, but CDFW says the quick response may have saved millions more of the endangered Chinook salmon.

The fall-run salmon were the same that had to be evacuated from the main facility in February following the erosion at the Oroville Dam spillways. More than two million fish will remain at the Thermalito Facility until they are large enough to be released into the Feather River. CDFW officials believe that will begin this week and continue over the next month.

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