News Release 291

Animal feeding operation lagoon overflows to Ralls County creek

Volume 38-291 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 13, 2010 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is investigating the release of animal waste from a Ralls County animal feeding operation’s lagoon that overflowed Wednesday, releasing waste into a nearby creek and causing a fish kill.

The department was notified by a citizen about 5:30 p.m. who reported the discoloration of Nichols Creek located southeast of Monroe City. An investigator tracked the source of the discoloration to a nearby feeding operation owned by Mitch Lehenbauer.

The lagoon owner was attempting to pump waste from the lagoon and into a holding tank to prevent additional releases as forecasted rains continue. He was also attempting to land apply under conservative rates to gain additional storage capacity in the lagoon. Although land application is not typically recommended during rains because of the possibility that some of the waste might run off the land and into waterways, it is preferred to having concentrated waste flowing directly from a lagoon into a creek.  

Investigators responding to the scene on Wednesday drew samples from the creek to try to determine the level of contamination. They will be returning today to take additional samples and to oversee the effort to prevent additional discharges from the lagoon.

Because of the spill’s effect on fish in the creek, department contacted the Missouri Department of Conservation. Conservation officials confirmed the release caused a fish kill and began an investigation to determine the extent of the damage to aquatic life in the creek.

For more information on this or other water pollution issues, contact the department’s Water Protection Program at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-1300.