Effects Of Phosphatic Clay Pollution On The Peace River, Florida

Contamination of the Peace River with 1,500 acre feet of phosphate mine waste (montmorillonite clay) resulted in heavy mortality of stream fauna. The estimated kill of fishes exceeded 90% of the fish population in 76 miles of stream. Losses of macroinvertebrates were heavy or complete for all taxonomic groups, except oligochaetes and tendipedid larvae. Excessive clay turbidity was determined as the cause of kill. Lethal concentrations of suspended particles was short term and within 9 days stream water quality returned to normal. Recovery of stream fauna was monitored for a 15 month period. Data is presented concerning recovery rates for fish species, invertebrates, and degradation effects on stream habitat. A monetary settlement was obtained from the responsible party in the amount of $200,000.00.

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