Glenwood pool chlorine spill is likely cause of fish deaths

State officials believe an accidental release of chlorine into the Colorado River by the Glenwood Hot Springs on Tuesday was the most likely cause of 84 fish deaths.

Representatives with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Water Quality Control Division are investigating the incident, as are hot springs pool staff.

“We’re taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again. In my tenure here nothing like this has ever happened before,” said Kjell Mitchell, chief operating officer and general manager of the Glenwood Hot Springs and a 33-year employee there.

David Kurz, lead wastewater engineer for the Water Quality Control Division, said the release involved 190 gallons of a solution consisting of 10 percent chlorine and 90 percent water that traveled via the pool’s outflow into the river. He said he believes it occurred between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said a fisherman notified his agency around 2 p.m. Tuesday about a fish kill near Two Rivers Park just downstream of the pool. Wildlife officials took water samples and collected 84 dead rainbow and brown trout, whitefish and suckers.

“We are continuing our portion of the investigation. We will determine if charges or civil actions are warranted based on that investigation,” Hampton said in an e-mail.

Kurz said a fine by his division also is possible. The division considers whether spills are intentional or accidental, what the impact is and whether the responsible party has a history of violations, he said.

Mitchell said the spill occurred while the pool was closed for regularly scheduled maintenance Tuesday and Wednesday. It involved an “inadvertent and brief” release from a chlorine tank, he said. The pool took immediate steps to stop the release, and promptly reported it to state health officials, Mitchell said. He said it’s premature to say how the accident occurred.

Kurz said tests have ruled out abnormal water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels and some other possible causes.

He said the chlorine/water mix was diluted by other water that was coming out of the outflow pipe, and the chlorine probably dissipated quickly upon entering the river.

“It would have been very short as far as the time frame, but certainly while it happened that would be a shock to any of the fish in that area,” he said.

Mitchell said the pool will reopen as scheduled this morning.


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