Massive Fish Kill Costs Iowa Farmer over $30 Thousand
After over a year, an Iowa dairy farmer has been fined after a manure spill caused a massive fish kill.
On April 14th, 2021, Bernard Bakker contacted his local DNR Field Office to report a spill on his dairy operation. Bakker owns and operates Rock Bottom Dairy in Rock Rapids, Iowa where he raises around 3,600 head of cattle.
According to a report from the DNR, an employee forgot to turn the irrigator off on the evening of April 13th. The spill went undetected until 6 am that next morning after the spilled manure had created a channel to Mud Creek. By the time Bakker found the spill, he saw that the manure had already traveled at least a half mile down Mud Creek, meaning it was too late to berm the area.
It was estimated that a couple hundred thousand gallons of manure spilled overnight.
Between April 14th and 16th 2021, the DNR Fisheries Bureau surveyed the area of Mud Creek that was impacted by the spill. Their investigation found that the fish kill extended for 13 miles downstream killing 96,168 fish.
The Fisheries Bureau determined the kill was valued at $24,127.26 and the investigation cost was $1,958.82 which totaled $26,086.07.
That was not the only fine Bakker had to pay. Rock Bottom Dairy was also fined $10,000.
This isn’t the first time the Dairy has gotten in trouble for manure leakage. According to the DNR, in 2004, Bakker was issued a Notice of Violation letter for open lot manure and silage discharge into the creek’s tributary. Bakker received another notice in 2008, but this spill did not reach the creek. In 2009, he was issued an Administrative Order for manure leakage that caused a fish kill. Then in 2013, a crack in the retaining wall of the facility was noted with some manure entering a ditch.