Large Fish and Salamander Kill in May 16-17, 2015 at Sligo Creek and Long Branch

Reports of at least 50 and maybe even hundreds of dead fish and salamanders in Long Branch and Sligo Creek over the weekend were filed by citizens and our government water authorities. Steve Martin and his water detective team at Montgomery County's Department of Environmental Protection (Susan Allen and Alex Tortella) and DEP water biologists are investigating. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is also investigating.

This morning (Monday, May 17), a FOSC member drove down to Sligo and Long Branch to assess the situation. He met Chris Luckett, Fish Kill Section, MDE. He said that he saw a large number of dead fish on Long Branch. In one case a pool of a dozen dead fish was seen. He estimated that there were 50-60 dead fish. He was continuing his investigation and promised to keep the FOSC member informed.

Based on reports we have seen (which are quite preliminary), it appears that something may have happened to change water quality starting Saturday afternoon. Furthemore, unusual large towers of sudsy foam were spotted in the stretch of the creek between Piney Branch and Jackson Avenue in Takoma Park on Sunday, although it is not known whether they were linked to the fish kill. One reporter also spotted suds/foam near the Wayne Avenue Bridge on Sunday.

Please let DEP know through the Water WatchDog email ( if you saw anything relevant over the weekend, see anything now - or even before. We are trying to construct the pollution timeline, to understand the scope of the creek affected and, of course, to track down the cause.

A Brief History of Foam in Sligo: As documented by our May 2006 Action Log, foam towers were seen in Sligo 9 years ago but no fish and salamander kill were reported at the time. It was considered the result of a natural process. Reported foam on the Creek at other times has also been linked to manmade pollution, such as laundry room discharge.

Foam tower sighted at Maple Avenue Sunday morning May 17