Hundreds of fish die as Lake Wilson dries up, water level drops 6 feet due to ongoing drought

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Tuesday, July 26, 2022
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Wilson County leaders are sounding the alarm as drought conditions threaten Lake Wilson.

WILSON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Officials in Wilson are sounding the alarm when it comes to drought conditions in eastern North Carolina.

The lack of rain has dropped the water level of Lake Wilson and its waterways by about 6 feet from its usual level, killing and endangering fish, according to a post on the city's Facebook.

Mary Speight, who's lived in Wilson for 30 years, said she's never seen Lake Wilson like this.

"Never, it's very sad," She said. I live out in the county and we have a well, and every day I'm afraid that the well would go dry and the toilet won't flush"

The U.S. Drought Monitor currently shows nearly all of eastern North Carolina in drought. Wilson County has some areas listed as abnormally dry and others listed as moderately dry. The U.S. Geological Survey shows most areas of the county have received less than a quarter of an inch of rain in the last week.

Hundreds of fish were found dead over the weekend, and the city said it's because of how low the water level has dropped.

"Well it just looks as if there's carnage here," Speight said. "I mean, it's very unpleasant."

The good news, for now, is that the county's drinking water is not affected. That's because the county's drinking water does not come from Lake Wilson. Instead, the county gets its water from Wiggins Mill, which is fed by Buckhorn Reservoir via Contentnea Creek.

Officials said the current drought has lowered Wiggins Mill, but only by about 1.5 feet -- as opposed to the 6 feet of Lake Wilson.

The city is not restricting people from fishing at Lake Wilson, and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has not issued any warnings about fish caught in low water levels. However, there is an ongoing concern about mercury levels in certain fish.

There was some rain on Tuesday and as of Tuesday afternoon, the city gave an update and said the owners of Silver Lake, which is privately owned, opened a gate on their dam and water is flowing from Silver Lake to Lake Wilson.

"We've seen a bit of improvement at Lake Wilson," the City of Wilson's Rebecca Agner said.