This morning was awful. I am looking for the words to describe it and can't. To put it shortly I am absolutely 100% positive I witnessed a petroleum discharge or dump of some kind in Sand-Creek flowing into the South Platte. Furthermore I am quite certain that whoever is responsible got off scott-free.
This morning at 9:00AM it smelled like a gas station at the Sand-Creek / South Platte confluence. There was also an oily sheen across the entire Sand-Creek side of the South Platte current. Every carp in the area (something on the order of 60?) was tightly grouped (alive but not very active) in a 20 foot section as far from Sand-Creek as they could get. And yes, I am very aware that it always smells nasty in the area. This was definitely very different.
I walked several hundred feet up Sand-Creek and there was an oil sheen the whole way and there was even a weird milky chocolaty sludge trapped in the small back-eddy below the confluence. My fly smelled like gasoline. My fingers smelled like gasoline. I could see micro-currents and upwells in the water column that you usually just can't see. Something was terribly wrong.
It took me a while but I found the correct Colorado Department of such and such spills / illegal discharges "Hotline" number (877-518-5608). For some foolish reason I pictured environmental cops showing up with sirens blazing. Three to four hours later I got the call that they were there and didn't smell anything or see any sheen on the water. They are just men like you or me doing a job and seemed to legitimately care and if it isn't still happening when they show up there is nothing they can do but I can't help being a little disappointed by the response time.
On the one hand I guess that is good. Whatever happened is over and was relatively short-lived (assuming it wasn't going on all weekend). On the other hand if it was one of the multiple refineries upstream of that location they got away with it and will probably get away with it again in the future. I feel like vomiting.
I wish I knew more to do in that situation. Somehow the hotline did not seem to be the trick although that is all I know to do. This is one of those rare occasions that I wish I was a real investigative journalist instead of just a shmuck with a shmucky blog. I can't help wondering what the history is with those refineries but would have no clue how to find out.
Since I really didn't know anything else I could do I did the obsessive and selfish thing and got on with fishing. Maybe I should have sat there and waited until they showed up. At any rate I met up with Chris Galvin and we spent the rest of the day swapping favorite spots up-river and talking carp. None of those spots was hot today and we got skunked but at least I spent the rest of the day fishing with a friend instead of worrying. I am worrying pretty hard right now though. I can't get that sheen and smell out of my mind. Not to mention 60 of my favorite carp huddled together in what I hope was not desperation. Carp are tough so lets hope they and the several other nice carp pods down-stream are OK.