EPA tests Donna fish for contaminants

For 15 years the Environmental Protection Agency has warned against eating the fish in Donna's reservoir and canal system, now they are trying to find the source of the contamination.Since 1997 the government has issued a fish advisory for Donna's waterways.

"Don't eat the fish that come from the Donna Lake or canal system, EPA project Manager Rafael Casanova said. That is the message we are trying to get across right now, just don't eat the fish."

Four years ago the EPA removed 3,500 fish from the canal system to figure out what chemicals were in the water.

Now, Casanova says they are trying to find where the contamination is coming from.

"The purpose of our investigation is to determine the source of the contamination, its nature and extent, Casanova said.

Surveyors will drive a cart retrofitted with their equipment along the banks of the canal, sending out an electromagnetic pulse that will detect any anomalies, much like a sonar.

"The anomalies are the drums or objects, Casanova said.

And those objects may contain the hazardous chemicals found inside the fish.

"We have reports that people have thrown all sorts of things into the water, Casanova said.

The Donna superfund site, as it is called, includes the Donna Reservoir as well as canals that feed it, covering about 180 linear miles.

Once again the agency will test the fish as well.

"We are going to take the fillets of the fish, we will measure them weigh them, and then cut them, use the fillets for the human health risk assessment and use the whole fish for the ecological health risk assessment, Casanova said.

To catch the fish, EPA contractors will use electro shocks to temporarily paralyze the fish, causing them to float.

The agency will then remove the fish to undergo testing for more than 200 types of containments so they can come up with a final remedy so one day the fish will be safe to eat again.