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Heavy Rainfall A Factor In Clinton County Manure Spill

Iowa DNR officials say heavy rainfall was a factor in what they're calling a "tremendous" manure spill in an eastern Iowa creek.

State investigators say heavy rains were in a factor in a manure spill at a dairy farm in eastern Iowa. Some researchers say a changing climate could increase the risk for similar incidents. 

State regulators say a “tremendous” amount of manure spilled into a tributary of Silver Creek, near Clinton, after the Blue Hyll Dairy Farm took on about eight inches of rain in a short time. The basin that overflowed stores some ten million gallons. 

Iowa Department of Natural Resources environmental specialist Ryan Stouder is investigating.

"The weather certainly was one of those factors that came in. I don't think they were fully prepared for that sort of level of rainfall in this area," Stouder said. "So it certainly threw them off of their normal operation, that's for sure."

Reviews by researchers at Michigan State University and the state of Minnesota have found livestock producers are vulnerable to extreme weather, which can disrupt their usual manure management plans.

Stouder says producers in Iowa may need to adjust to accomodate the impacts of stronger, more frequent storms brought on by climate change.

"If there’s an issue with climate change potentially affecting this area, they’re going to have to increase storage for these sort of rain events," Stouder said. "Anticipating, well we’re not going to get a one inch rainfall, we may get a five inch. And making sure there’s enough capacity for that." 

Stouder is urging producers to adjust and prevent spills, not wait for them to happen.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter