Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flood Water Draws Carp by Thousands to the River Des Peres

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flood Water Draws Carp by Thousands to the River Des Peres

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Record rain in recent weeks transformed parts of the metro area landscape. Low-lying fields became wetlands. Creeks flash- flooded into rapids.

Even the River des Peres was given a chance to live up to its name.

But perhaps only the unwitting fish that took a long turn off the fast-moving Mississippi River into the dingy tributary are unaware that it's just a temporary river.

"It's really a drainage path," said Lance LeComb, a spokesman for the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, which owns the southern stretch of the River des Peres.

Downstream from Forest Park, where it tucks underground, the wide canal essentially runs the line between the city and south St. Louis County from Shrewsbury to the Lemay area. It serves as an overflow for storm water and occasionally during heavy rain sewage.

Typical dry and unsightly conditions have been masked this late spring and early summer by runoff and backwater coming up from the Mississippi, which is expected to drop below flood stage Friday.

As it falls, so will all the bloated tributaries that have turned into what scientists describe as ideal refuges for Asian carp, the invasive fish that are over-running inland waterways. The fish eat microscopic bugs and plants, which grow easily in slow-moving, nitrogen-rich waters abutting the Mississippi and other major rivers.

"It's a buffet to eat at, and you don't have to run on the treadmill," said Kevin Irons, who studies Asian carp as Aquatic Nuisance Species Manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

A few curious joggers, cyclists and pedestrians, peering from bridges along the River des Peres Greenway, recently noticed carp teeming below.

"You see those fish moving!" Jamal Williams, 8, yelled this week about his discovery from Chippewa Street, five miles upstream from the confluence of the River des Peres and the Mississippi. …

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