TDEC Issues Precautionary Fish Consumption Advisory On Parksville Reservoir On Ocoee River

Monday, August 24, 2020
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced Monday a new precautionary fish consumption advisory on Parksville Reservoir on the Ocoee River in Polk County.  This lake is also known as Ocoee Number 1. 
 
This advisory is due to elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in catfish species. Other fish species are not impacted.  
 
TDEC advises that pregnant women, nursing mothers and children avoid eating the fish species included in the advisory and that all others limit consumption to one meal per month.
Other recreational activities such as boating, kayaking, swimming, wading and catch and release fishing carry no risk. Rafting on the Ocoee River does not expose citizens to PCBs.  
 
“By all measures, the Ocoee River including Parksville Reservoir is one of Tennessee’s most dramatic water quality success stories,” TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greg Young said. “Forty years ago, Parksville Reservoir was so toxic that few fish could live in it and local residents knew not to bother fishing there. There were no fish to catch in the lake because of the over 100-year history of water quality impacts from copper mining in the Copper Basin.  

“However, modern environmental regulations and the restoration of the Copper Basin led to enough water quality improvement in the Ocoee that fish began to return to Parksville Reservoir. Now fish thrive in the lake but have been exposed to the legacy chemicals in the sediment. One of these chemicals is PCBs.”  

In the last 20 years, the Tennessee Valley Authority collected and analyzed fish in Parksville Reservoir in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2017. These fish tissue data are the basis of the new advisory. The lake will again be sampled in 2020. 
 
“We issue these advisories so the community can make informed decisions about whether or not to consume the fish they catch,” Deputy Comm. Young said. “Unlike ‘do not consume’ advisories that warn the general population to avoid eating fish from a particular body of water altogether, precautionary fish consumption advisories are specifically directed to sensitive populations such as children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and those who may eat fish frequently from the same body of water.”
 
TDEC will post warning signs at public access points on Parksville Reservoir and will work with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Cherokee National Forest to communicate this information to the public.

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