An Iowa farmer has learned that there are legal
consequences for deliberately dumping manure on the ground. His
actions directly led to more than 150,000 dead
The case prompted state officials to remind
producers that they can seek assistance in disposing of liquid
manure and other wastes, rather than just dumping and hoping to get
away with it.
Here is the release from the Environmental Services Division
of Iowa DNR:
Anders Knudsen, of rural Mona, Iowa, was sentenced in Iowa’s
Second Judicial District Court for actions resulting in a
significant 2009 fish kill in Otter Creek, a tributary of the Cedar
River in northwest Mitchell County.
Knudsen was convicted of negligent disposal of a pollutant, a
serious misdemeanor, in violation of Iowa Code section 455B.186 and
455B.191(2). The district court judge sentenced Knudsen to a $315
fine and $10,000 in restitution for the fish kill. Neither the fine
nor restitution were suspended.
Knudsen admittedly pumped liquid swine manure from a confinement
pit to the ground surface for a period of approximately six hours
on Sept. 6, 2009. A fish kill in Otter Creek was reported to the
DNR the following day. A subsequent investigation by DNR
Environmental Services Division personnel revealed that the manure
flowed over land from the confinement site, through a standing
cornfield, through a pasture and into Otter Creek. DNR Fisheries
Bureau personnel determined that a total of 151,086 fish were
killed with a total value of $32,681.61.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency strongly considered
prosecuting the matter as a criminal case, but ultimately did not
do so. Due to the monetary value involved, the DNR requested the
Environmental Protection Commission refer the case to the Iowa
Attorney General’s Office, which it did. The attorney general’s
office subsequently took the case and filed a criminal complaint in
district court. Knudsen could have faced a $25,000 fine in addition
to the fish restitution of more than $32,000. Knudsen pled guilty
of the charge and did address the court, apologizing for the
incident. He has paid the fine and restitution.
According to Trent Lambert, DNR Environmental Specialist, this
incident should serve as a reminder to producers that there can be
serious environmental consequences associated with manure handling
“In this case, we had a producer who did not want his pits to
overflow, but also knew that pumping manure onto the ground was
illegal. He did it anyway, and it resulted in a large fish kill,”
Lambert also pointed out that this was not a type of incident most
people associate with fish kills, such as an accidental spill, or
when manure enters a tile line and causes a problem.
“Instead, Knudsen assumed the manure would simply flow into the
cornfield and soak into the ground. This case illustrates how such
a seemingly harmless action can have such a damaging effect,” said
DNR environmental field offices can assist producers when they face
issues such as a shortage of manure storage capacity.
“We want to stress the importance of communication when these
situations arise for producers. Each year, we assist numerous
producers with this matter, but we have to know about it in order
to help,” Lambert said. “There is a good chance this incident could
have been prevented had the producer contacted the field office
prior to pumping manure onto the ground.”