Fishing for Solutions for Poisoned Trinity River

"DALLAS -- An abandoned river runs through the city.

Because it is abandoned -- because you can stand on the levee at Westmoreland Avenue or Hampton Boulevard for an hour and see no one teaching a child to fish, no one floating on an inner tube on a summer afternoon, no one just sitting and thinking -- people do not think much about what reaches the river with each rain.

Storms over factories, warehouses and truck terminals wash old industrial poisons into ditches and sad ponds dug beside the levee. When the rain is heavy, workers turn on big pumps and flush the water, chemicals and all, into the river.

During years of rain, pump and flush, the poison has settled bit by bit onto the river's bottom. Creatures that live in the depths take it in as they feed and breathe, and some of them in turn become food for bigger creatures. Through a cruel mathematics of altered nature, the poison builds up in each successive predator.

In time, the biggest fish in the river held so much poison that it became dangerous for people to eat them. So people stayed away, and over time, it no longer mattered which came first -- the toxic fish or the abandoned river."

Randy Lee Loftis reports for the Dallas Morning News July 19, 2009.

Monday, July 20, 2009