MILFORD -A faulty electrical connection to a set of personal watercraft hoists in West Lake Okoboji killed a number of fish on Friday, reminding dock owners of the dangers of electrical hookups near water.
While investigating the fish kill, DNR staff discovered a charred electrical outlet on the dock. An electrician called by the dock owner found a short inside the electric hoist box that had electrically charged the frame of the two personal watercraft hoists. A ground fault interrupter (GFI), which should have shut down the connection following the short, was not working.
"This was a situation that killed a few fish but could have been much worse. There had been adults and children playing in the water close by," said Mike Hawkins with DNR fisheries. "A short to ground in a lake is usually not enough to trip a circuit breaker. This makes these types of shorts especially deadly since they can be active and go unnoticed until someone gets an electrical shock. In this case, the water was clear enough that the ring of dead fish led us to the problem before something worse happened."
Hawkins suggests that dock owners follow state dock standards for installing and maintaining electrical hookups and that they test their GFIs at least yearly with an inexpensive external tester.