The operator of a feedlot near Dyersville will be fined for dumping manure-contaminated water into a creek. Department of Natural Resources officials say they found a number of fish dead in Bear Creek, which is a tributary of the North Fork of the Maquoketa River. The D-N-R’s Mike Wade says they tracked the trail of dead fish, and then followed trails of much-higher-than-normal ammonia in the stream to the source of the contamination. Wade describes the fish kill as minor, but he says the feedlot operator, Martin Kruse, was draining manure-contaminated water directly into Bear Creek, which is a violation of state law. Wade says the feedlot’s drainage system was designed with a pipe that fed liquid run-off from a manure-handling unit directly into a stream, which he says it never allowed by state law. Wade says there’s a “misconception” among livestock producers that the “clean” water floating on top of a manure storage basin can be released into a stream. Wade says the rules for open feedlots, fluids that are “toxic” and could cause water quality problems must be controlled. Wade says anytime water is in contact with manure, it will pick up toxins from the manure, like ammonia and other particles that deplete the oxygen in water. It’s that oxygen-robbing stuff in the water that’s been sitting on top of a manure pit that kills the fish and other acquatic life. Wade says manure-contaminated water must first flow through a grass buffer strip or something else that’ll take out the pollutants. Three weeks ago, there was another manure-related fish kill along Bear Creek. The feedlot investigators say caused this latest fish kill will be cited for failing to have a manure management plan as well as a number of water quality and manure handling violations. The person who answered the phone at the Martin Kruse residence near Dyersville said Kruse was in the field and not available.
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