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Producer acted quickly in Allamakee County spill


October 19, 2015
By Iowa Department of Natural Resources

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October 19, 2015, New Albin, IA – When a pipe coupler on manure application equipment broke recently southwest of New Albin, the quick thinking of the hog producer contained the manure, preventing a much worse situation.

“In less than an hour the landowner did a great job of damming the creek, preventing further damage downstream. We checked every place between the spill site and the Upper Iowa River for dead fish,” said Theresa Shay, technician at Iowa Department of Natural Resource’s Decorah fish hatchery. “We only found two dead fish in the entire stretch – two white suckers, but we did see live sticklebacks and white suckers.”

DNR investigators weren’t able to assess the full extent of spill’s impact on the stream. Reports from the landowner indicate there were more dead fish initially, but they may have washed downstream when one of the temporary dams broke or been pumped up during cleanup efforts.

The spill occurred on Clark Creek as a custom service was pumping liquid manure from the hog confinement to land apply it on crop fields.

As estimated 1,000 gallons was released. Water and manure behind the dam were pumped to a nearby crop field for land application.

“Having the landowner and the equipment onsite were factors in preventing further damage,” said Brett Meyers, DNR environmental specialist. “They did what they could to protect the Upper Iowa River.”

Field tests show slight levels of ammonia in the creek and none in the Upper Iowa. Laboratory results will be available in about a week. The DNR will take appropriate enforcement action.