Big fish kill reported on Wall Lake

The following news release from the Department of Game, Fish and Parks contains some bad news for anglers about Wall Lake, located near Sioux Falls.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota departments of Environment and Natural Resources and Game, Fish and Parks and South Dakota State University are working together to investigate dead and dying fish at Wall Lake in Minnehaha County.

The popular 207-acre lake is located a few miles west of Sioux Falls.

The first calls reporting dead and distressed fish came Thursday. An initial investigation by GFP fisheries staff from Sioux Falls found a few dead fish, but thousands of others in distress near the surface of the lake.

Oxygen levels were found to be 0.5 to 0.8 parts-per-million (PPM), which is far below the normal of 5-10 PPM found during the summer.

“Prolonged exposure to oxygen levels this low could result in significantly more dead fish than we’re seeing now,” said Todd St. Sauver, Regional Fisheries Manager. “Based on the oxygen testing results and our observations, we believe Wall Lake is suffering a phenomenon commonly known as summerkill.” 

Summerkill occurs when oxygen demands of all living organisms in a lake are greater than the oxygen produced through plant photosynthesis and the air/water interface.  Runoff produced by heavy rains Wednesday night, combined with an overcast sky, all contributed to the condition.

“Biologists from DENR collected water samples Thursday afternoon, and there will be additional water and sediment samples collected for testing at SDSU,” St. Sauver said. “It may take several days to complete the tests, and we may not know the exact cause until then. The best we can hope for now is some sunshine and some wind to start raising the oxygen level.”

The City of Sioux Falls has designated a special disposal area for fish cleanup.

Fish waste brought to the landfill must be separated from other domestic solid waste materials and Wall Lake residents are the only residents eligible. Residents must stop at the landfill scale house and inform scale house employees of the contents of their load.

The GFP will also have a special lined container at the Wall Lake boat ramp for lake residents who need to dispose of fish waste. 

General information regarding the Landfill, including hours of operation, rates, and materials accepted are located on the City’s web site at, or you may call the Landfill at (605) 367-8162.

Until testing is complete, the South Dakota Department of Health cautions people about using Wall Lake and consuming or handling fish from the lake.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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