Roanoke County farmer finds thousands of dead fish in Bradshaw Creek

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A Roanoke County farmer is sounding the alarm after she found dead fish near her home in Salem’s Bradshaw Creek.

A Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson said they’re investigating the incident and recorded 2,000 dead fish.

They said they believe uncured concrete material from a nearby VDOT construction project got into the water, increasing the pH and killing the fish.

“It was heartbreaking, really, because this creek is teeming with life, and it’s a very clean creek,” Dr. Maureen Roberts, farmer and veterinarian said.

The DEQ spokesperson said water quality has returned to normal and corrective measures have been put in place at the site. Dr. Roberts said she’s been told she shouldn’t worry about contamination in her drinking water.

“We’ve been told that it doesn’t,” Dr. Roberts said. “That our wells are back further from the creek, so they don’t. I do think that we’ll all have water independently tested.”

Dr. Roberts said that her farm animals do drink creek water so that’s a concern.

“I think this is a scary situation because if we hadn’t noticed who knows what would have happened,” Dr. Roberts said. “We would have given them our animals, and we may have had animal loss.”

She said she hopes this doesn’t happen again.

“I hope the creek can recover,” Dr. Roberts said. “I mean don’t think there’s anything that can be done at this point.”

A VDOT spokesperson released a statement:

“On April 17, a contractor, US Infra-Rehab, hired by VDOT, was repairing and strengthening a corrugated metal pipe that carries Bradshaw Creek under Bradshaw Road in Roanoke County. The lining material being used to repair and extend the life of the pipe was not given enough time to cure and was washed into the creek. This material changed the pH of the water and fish near the culvert were killed. The material washed into the creek was diluted and the pH levels have returned to a normal range. DEQ was alerted and VDOT is fully cooperating with DEQ in their investigation.”

Virginia Department of Transportation

A DEQ spokesperson released a statement:

“DEQ responded to a fish kill at a bridge crossing Bradshaw Creek in Salem (adjacent to 8404 Bradshaw Rd.). The investigation showed showed that between 2 and 5:30pm on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, stream water bypassed protective structures and contacted uncured concrete material in a culvert that is part of a Virginia Department of Transportation project. This contact caused an increase in stream pH, killing approximately 2,000 fish within 1,830 feet of the culvert, with Mountain Redbelly Dace being the most affected species. DEQ water quality monitoring and enforcement staff continue to investigate but have found that water quality has returned to normal and that corrective measures have been put in place at the site.”

Department of Environmental Quality

About the Author

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.

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