Fish Imperiled at Freshwater Science

Chiller causes issues for researchers

An aquarium chiller malfunction has posed a life-threatening situation to an unknown amount of fish at UWM’s Freshwater Sciences building, according to staff members.

Dr. Berri Forman, assistant director and research veterinarian for the Animal Use and Care Committee, says that there can be as many as millions of fish- a majority being babies- at the School of Freshwater Sciences. The number of fish endangered by the chiller malfunction is unknown. The Animal Use and Care Committee (ACUC) met Friday, Oct. 25 to discuss this ongoing issue.

Dr. Kurt Svoboda, an associate professor for the Environmental and Occupational Health program, almost lost 10 years of research with the last problem they had.

“I’m from Louisiana, and I felt more uncertain up here and the way this was handled than I did living through a hurricane that almost took down a city,” he said.

Svoboda says that it is stressful having a research program at the Freshwater Sciences building because they have influctions of heat and cold all of the time.

According to Greg Adams, Director of Facility Services, the chiller was a problem when it was first put in.

“There was a lawsuit,” says Adams, “[but] none of it was in their control because it was a state project.” However, University Relations has no record of any complaints filed with the ACUC.

Svoboda says that an easy fix to the problem would be to have confident people oversee the infrastructure.

The maintenance support staff for the chiller said they will provide the support necessary, but they ask that the staff in the Freshwater Sciences building “keep [their] hands off.”  Maintenance says that staff interference has been a problem in the past. One staff member advised the Freshwater Sciences staff to “let us do our job and don’t interfere.”

Part of the Animal Use and Care Committee’s mission statement is to provide for the care, health, and well-being of animals used for research and education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Forman says that the animals that are kept on campus vary, but can include rats, mice, fish, and birds. The animals vary based on what research is being conducted. It is up to the ACUC to ensure that the correct procedures are followed and that everything is up to code.

Adams concluded the meeting segment with a promise.

“You have my commitment. We’ll maintain that building the way that building is supposed to be maintained. When work is called in and its not done, I’ll know it’s not done and we’ll get it done. That’s my commitment. I’m sorry about what happened in the past. I can’t fix what happened in the past, but you have my plan and you have my commitment. I’d much prefer face to face engagement with my customers and with my colleagues.”