State officials are reminding businesses and farmers they are required by law to tell authorities when there are spills of liquid manure or farm chemicals. Ken Hessenius, supervisor of the Department of Natural Resources’ office in Spencer, is investigating three spills which have occured in his northwest Iowa region in the past 24 hours.
"The concern is timely reporting of the spills," Hessenius says. "There’s some question at this point whether they’ve met the six hour criteria or not." Someone who fails to report a spill within six hours of discovering it may be charged with a misdemeanor. Only one of the three spills Hessenius is investigating was reported within that six-hour time frame.
Hessenius says when he and his staff hear about a spill, they can help take steps to reduce contamination of water, soil and air.
"We want to reemphasize the importance of calling these is as soon as possible after they discover (the spill) or the incident occurs," Hessenius says.
There was an unreported manure spill from a dairy operation west of Rock Valley in Sioux County on Tuesday night. Officials found manure along a five-mile stretch of an unnamed stream that flows into a local pond and tracked the spill back to the Ysselstein Dairy. The second unreported spill was at a Cenex station in Sac City where Hessenius says about a gallon of diesel fuel wound up in a storm sewer.
The only one of the three spills which was reported happened Tuesady when a farmer spraying fertilizer on a farm near Quimby in Cherokee County overturned in a small creek.
The farmer damned up the creek and pumped out the water onto nearby farmland. Hessenius says while the D.N.R. has notified various water systems about the three spills, water appears safe to drink in all three areas.
"We don’t anticipate that any of them will have any effect on any drinking water supply," Hessenius says. Hessenius cautions against wading or boating in any of the three small bodies of water impacted by the three spills, however.