State environmental officials are investigating two separate incidents of water pollution from over the weekend.
In the first case, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says an industrial cleaner being used at the Tyson-Hillshire plant in Storm Lake was supposed to go to the factory’s wastewater system. Instead, DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins says the chemical ran across a parking lot and found its way into Storm Lake.
“We did a lot of testing at the outfall of the storm sewer as it went into the lake,” Baskins says. “The primary thing we were concerned about was it elevating the pH levels. Actually, our testing found the pH levels in the lake were about the same as the water coming out of the storm sewer.” Baskins says the chemical was likely diluted by all of the snow melt, following last week’s storm that brought about eight inches of snow to the area.
The second incident was in Fairfield where a black tar-like substance was found in a tributary of Cedar Creek. “We were able to confirm that there was a black substance in the stream when we were out there on Saturday morning,” Baskins says. “We were able to trace it back to a parking lot where it looked like there had been some material applied to gravel on that parking lot.”
He says it appears the environmental impact in the Fairfield case was minimal. “We have not seen a fishkill associated with that,” Baskins says. “We did do some testing on Saturday and did see some elevated ammonia levels where that black substance was found but the dissolved oxygen levels were good, which is the big thing that supports aquatic life in the water.” Both incidents remain under investigation.