Protecting Missouri trout from flood waters

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - The recent flooding events not only caused major disruptions in everyday life, they also posed a big threat to the trout at the Conservation Department's Meramec spring hatchery. Hatchery manager Wes Swee talks about special measures staff took to protect the fish.

Where is the hatchery located?

• In Maramec Spring Park, on Highway 8, 6 miles east of St. James
• Park run by the James Foundation
• Contains the 5th largest spring in Missouri
• Hatchery operated by MDC
• The hatchery raises and stocks about 100,000 trout per year

How did the recent floods affect you?
• The unusually high rainfall at the end of last month caused the Meramec River to flood
• The water inundated the park and flooded the hatchery office with 15 inches of water
• Most of the park was submerged
• We already had a plan in place to protect the fish however before the waters rose

What did the Missouri Department of Conservation do about the flooding?

• Installed flood covers on the trout raceways in anticipation of the big weekend flood
• MDC staff from all divisions joined in the effort, allowing us to complete the project in about 3 hours
• We installed 56 aluminum covers in all, each spanning 12 feet wide and stretching over 400 feet of raceway
• Intent was to the keep the hatchery fish contained when the flood waters covered the pools
• The covers were able to protect the fish
• This flood turned out to be the highest yet since the covers were built in 2008

What other impacts were there?

• Flood waters also covered the large production pool containing 20,000 12-inch trout in 18 inches of water
• Did not have a cover large enough for that pool
• Despite some concerns, it appears that most of those fish were able to hunker down in the pool and stay put

Will anglers see an affect from this flood event during the rest of the season?

• No, the covers did the job and we managed to save most of the fish
• There should be plenty of trout for the season
• All the MDC hatcheries operate as one complete system to help when we have an event like this