ALLENWOOD, Pa. -- Despite a local family’s valiant efforts, a swiftly evaporating retention pond in Allenwood has left hundreds of fish high and dry.

Despite a local family’s valiant efforts, a swiftly evaporating retention pond in Allenwood has left hundreds of fish high and dry.


Sarah Masser has lived on the corner of Fifth Street and Columbia Avenue in Allenwood for 32 years and said the pond, normally a little larger than a football field, was installed five years ago along First Street when construction began on a new housing development in the neighborhood.


“I can never remember a time when there wasn’t water in the pond,” Masser said. “The kids used to skate on the pond in the winter.”


She said her family had been watching the water levels drop because of dry conditions over the past two weeks. Then, this past weekend, the family realized the seriousness of the situation when they noticed hundreds of fish struggling for survival as the water continued to evaporate.


In an effort to save the fish, the family spent nearly five hours over the weekend filling five- and 10-gallon buckets with fish and taking them to the Susquehanna River.


Masser credits her grandson, 3-year-old Evan Diehl of Turbotville, with launching the family’s efforts to save the fish. She said Evan enjoyed taking walks to the pond to watch the fish.


“He said, ‘We can’t let the fish die,’” Masser said.


Despite their best effort, the family on Tuesday morning discovered hundreds of dead fish floating in the small amount of water remaining in the pond.


Masser said the sight of the dead fish left them regretting they had not done more.


Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission spokesman Dan Tredinnick said his organization does not advocate moving fish to other bodies of water when similar situations arise.


“Unless you know for certain what you’re moving and stocking, it could be a vector for fish disease,” he said. “These are ripe conditions for bacterial infections.”


Tredinnick said by moving fish, people could inadvertently help spread disease.


“We don’t like to see fish die, but sometimes in situations like this, you’re better to have the fish die,” he added.


He also said his organization has not received any similar reports of fish death due to the weather.


“If the dry conditions continue, I expect we’ll hear a few more stories like this,” he said.


Norm Conrad of the Penn State Cooperative Extension said situations like the Masser family encountered are common when dry conditions occur.


“We’ve only had 3 inches of precipitation since May,” he said. “You are going to have loss of some creatures.”


He added that the death of fish, even in farm ponds that have plenty of water, is common when hot, dry atmospheric conditions persist.


Union County Emergency Services director Tom Hess said the county has been monitoring the dry conditions and has been in touch with the state drought coordinator.


He said state officials plan to meet within the next two weeks to discuss the conditions and decide if a drought watch or warning should be issued.


Standard Journal of Milton, Pa.