Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Iowa: Dubuque County Fish Kill Traced to Livestock Operation

A fish kill on Whitewater Creek in Dubuque County was determined
to have originated at an open lot hog and cattle operation near
Peosta.

The livestock operation is owned by Wayne Demmer of rural Peosta.
Manure from the feed lots flows to a reception pit that overflowed
due to recent heavy rains in the local area, eventually reaching
the stream.

Fisheries biologists for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
were on the scene Monday to do an assessment of the fish kill. The
fish kill has affected several miles of stream and has included
many different fish species.

“Mr. Demmer was very cooperative and has pumped down the storage
pit to avoid additional overflow,” said DNR Environmental
Specialist Tom McCarthy.

McCarthy said the system Demmer had in place to control manure
runoff from the open feedlots was one of the best he has ever seen,
but serves as a reminder that even the best systems need to watched
during periods of heavy rainfall or snow melt.

“He (Demmer) has a good system, it’s just an unfortunate situation
of getting too much rain in short period of time. Producers need to
be checking these systems as often as possible to make sure they
have plenty of capacity to handle runoff,” said McCarthy.

Producers should also call their local DNR field office in the
event of a spill or overflow.

“We can provide technical expertise in these situations that would
help prevent fish kills. It really does not take a huge amount of
manure reaching the stream to have a big impact,” said
McCarthy.

The DNR will be seeking restitution for the fish killed once the
biologists have completed an assessment. The incident continues to
be under investigation and other enforcement actions are
possible.

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