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Iowa DNR determines source of recent fish kills


September 12, 2014, Des Moines, IA – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has traced the source of a fish kill at the Buck Creek County Park to a small dairy operation.

The fish kill, discovered Sept. 3, was caused after manure from the dairy was applied too close to a waterway, according to DNR inspectors. Runoff from the manure entered Buck Creek and flowed five miles through the county park where DNR discovered the fish kill while stocking trout.

DNR fisheries biologists report that 36,350 fish were killed, mostly minnows, shiners, chubs and dace (15,975). The runoff killed one brook trout, 91 rainbow trout and 1,172 brown trout. The fish killed are valued at $26,023.35 with investigation costs of $1,147.51.

The DNR will pursue enforcement actions and fish restitution of $27,170.86.

A second fish kill, initially reported as affecting five and then 12 miles of Mill Creek, was caused by a manure discharge from a dairy in O’Brien County. The spill killed fish for 28 miles of stream. The DNR found elevated levels of ammonia and low levels of dissolved oxygen, along with 865,940 dead fish along the creek beginning west of Primghar, IA.

Most of the fish were minnows, shiners, dace and chubs. However, DNR fisheries found 4,510 dead catfish, 2,479 sunfish, 459 largemouth bass and 45 smallmouth bass. The fish restitution total is $158,551.63, with investigation costs of $1,945.73 for a total of $160,497.36.

The DNR will take enforcement action and pursue compensation for the fish.

In a third investigation along Catfish Creek in Dubuque County over the Labor Day weekend, DNR fisheries found dead fish along at least 2.2 miles of stream above the confluence with the South Fork of Catfish Creek.

Fisheries completed the dead fish count, identifying bluegill, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, stonecat, yellow perch and white sucker for a total of 455 dead fish. Staff could not identify small fish due to advanced decay. Preliminary estimates place the fish value at $2,705.

Investigators were not able to verify the pollutant source because the fish had been dead for several days before DNR was notified. However, DNR investigators think it was likely related to storm water runoff.