A fish-kill in northwestern Iowa is suspected of being the result of a manure spill. Department of Natural Resources Environmental Program Supervisor Ken Hessenius says the report came in Tuesday night that fish were in trouble in Otter Creek. He says there are quite a few confinement operations and a few open hog-lots scattered around that area. The report came from otuside the town of Sibley, in Osceola County, barely ten miles from the Minnesota border. According to Hessenius, one startling give-away that the water was tainted was the sight of fish leaping out of the water. Hessenius says he’s seen cases where fish were exposed to high levels of ammonia and without trying to ascribe human characteristics to the fish, he says it’s apparent that somehow it irritates or burns their gills. “They try to get away from that and we’ve seen…cases where they literally will jump out of the water or jump onto the bank to get away from that,” he says. Unlike fish that jump to catch insects, he says these are in distress and then they die. The dead-fish count done by state fishery workers won’t be complete for another day or two but Hessenius has been given an estimate “in the hundreds.” Hessenius says it looks like the manure may have entered the creek through underground tile used to drain excess water from farm fields, and from the smell it appears to be animal manure. He says it’ll be tough tracing the spill back to a particular farm. “Y’know, we all want clean, good-quality water,” Hessenius says. “It is important for everyone to do their part to keep these streams clean, because the water doesn’t belong to them — it flows downstream for others to use.” Anyone who can help in the investigation’s welcome to call him at (712) 262-4177.
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