Blairstown dairy farm spills manure into Coon Creek

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Last Thursday an estimated 100,000 gallons of manure spilled out of a dairy farm near Blairstown into Coon Creek. This accident occurred when a contractor at Cedar Valley Farms punctured a manure transfer pipe. Although Coon Creek flows into the Iowa River, KCRG reports that it’s unlikely that the river will experience significant contamination:

Paul Sleeper, a DNR fishery biologist, said he will have to wait for the water to clear up more before he can tally up the number of fish killed. But he did visit the area where that creek tributary flows into the Iowa River near Marengo.

“We did go down there this (Friday) morning where it dumps into the Iowa River. At this time, we don’t see any impact. The Iowa River has a pretty good flow right now so we don’t anticipate any problems with that,” Sleeper said.

The Iowa Independent notes that the response to this incident is Bill Ehm’s first test as the administrator of the Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division:

Iowa Code authorizes the assessment of civil penalties of up to $5,000 per day for violations of water pollution control laws; more severe criminal sanctions are also provided. The Code also authorizes the Commission to establish by rule a schedule of civil penalties up to $10,000 which may be assessed administratively. Penalties assessed are often based on the gravity of the violation and culpability.

State officials believe the spill has been predominantly contained to Coon Creek, which is a tributary of the Iowa River. An estimated 2.5 miles have been affected, and an unknown number of fish have been killed.

Wendy Barth, a resident of nearby Cedar Rapids and a member of Iowa CCI, noted Ehm stated that he’s not afraid to penalize or fine polluters. “This is a chance for him to prove it,” Barth said.

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