The warnings about eating fish caught in portions of the Stones River and the upper section of J. Percy Priest Lake continue in Rutherford County. Evidently, there are elevated amounts of mercury in fish samplings.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced in March a precautionary fish consumption advisory for bass species in a portion of the East Fork Stones River in Rutherford County. The advisory extends from the mouth at the confluence with the West Fork Stones River in upper J. Percy Priest Reservoir upstream to Betty Ford Road near Lascassas. Walter Hill Lake, a small impoundment on the East Fork near the community of Walter Hill, is included in the advisory.
State Representative Mike Sparks from Smyrna stated...
The advisory is the result of fish tissue sampling at multiple stations in the summer and fall of 2018, which indicated that in species such as smallmouth bass and largemouth bass, mercury trigger points recommended by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration are being exceeded.
It's advised that pregnant or nursing mothers and children avoid eating bass species from the portion of the East Fork included in the advisory. All others should limit consumption of bass to one meal per month. Other recreational activities on the East Fork Stones River such as boating, swimming, wading, and catch-and-release fishing carry no risk from mercury.
TDEC is not aware of any local sources of mercury to the East Fork Stones River. According to the EPA, atmospheric deposition due to the global burning of coal is the most frequent reason for elevated levels of mercury in fish.
There are two types of fish consumption advisories issued by TDEC based on the levels of contaminants present in fish tissue. "Do not consume" fishing advisories are issued when levels of contaminants in fish tissue would represent a threat to the general population. Precautionary advisories are issued when contaminant levels are lower, but would still pose a risk to sensitive subpopulations such as children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and those who frequently eat fish from the same body of water.