Manure Release And Fish Kill In O’Brien County

Fish KillHartley, Iowa — An older earthen basin at a swine nursery and finishing unit east of Hartley developed a leak causing a fish kill in Sewer Creek this week, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Producer Laverne VanLoon noticed Wednesday afternoon that liquid manure levels in the earthen basin had dropped significantly since he’d last checked it over the weekend.

He traced the leak through a tile line which outlets into a tributary of Sewer Creek.

VanLoon dammed the area below the tile line outlet Wednesday evening, pumping up incoming manure throughout the night and hauling it to another facility, to prevent additional manure from reaching Sewer Creek. VanLoon was unable to recover all manure from the creek before it reached the Ocheyedan River.

DNR staff found elevated ammonia levels, depleted oxygen and dead fish Wednesday along 5.7 miles of Sewer Creek. Fisheries staff was conducting a count of dead fish Thursday.

Ammonia levels returned to nearly normal by late Thursday morning and live fish were swimming in the creek.

The DNR will continue to monitor the fish kill and cleanup, and consider appropriate enforcement action, including fish restitution.