Hundreds of fish found dead

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. - September 8, 2008 - But hundreds were killed over the weekend when the water level got too low.

Those dead fish lead to a big stink for people living near the lake, who described the situation with words like revolting and disgusting.

"We couldn't sit in the living room, the stench was just coming through the windows," said Mike Loveland of Mt. Holly.

Sunnies, large mouth bass, catfish and some carp littered the surface and the banks of the lake.

"They were just trying to get water and oxygen and they had nothing to get," Loveland said.

The problems began Friday when, to avoid possible flooding from Tropical Storm Hanna, the township opened the gates to let water out of Lake Woolman.

But the lake got too low, even though the township manager says she, the mayor and the public works supervisor were monitoring water levels.

"I was here at 2:30 yesterday afternoon. The lake did have water in it," said township manager Kathleen Hoffman. "And I got a call at 3:30 this morning that it was dry."

Hoffman says police are checking into whether someone may have tampered with the water gates.

Fish and Wildlife officers and the DEP inspected the lake Monday morning.

Soon after public works crews began the slow and smelly process of pulling the decomposing fish out with nets and by hand.

It may take several days to finish the job.

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