Capital Clicks

Large cattle feedlot fined $2,000 for stream contamination

By: - December 27, 2022 8:00 am

Creeks are protected waterways in Iowa. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

An employee of the third-largest open feedlot in Iowa improperly pumped manure water onto a field this year that was too saturated with rainwater to absorb the liquid, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

As a result, feedlot owner Brian Wendl, of rural Willey in western Iowa, has agreed to pay a $2,000 fine.

Someone reported in June 2022 that manure water was being pumped from Wendl’s feedlot and was freely flowing into a nearby stream that goes to the Middle Raccoon River.

Wendl was in Tennessee at the time but immediately returned to help contain the contamination, he has said. He stemmed the flow of manure water into the stream by constructing a berm.

The DNR noted elevated levels of ammonia and bacteria in the stream but did not see dead fish.

Wendl is permitted to have 20,000 cattle. His site has a basin that collects manure water runoff that is periodically pumped onto a nearby field. Since the June incident, Wendl has increased the amount of vegetation growing in that field to help contain the manure water, the DNR said.

Under a recent agreement with the DNR, Wendl will pay the fine and develop better operating procedures for pumping water from the basin, which is expected to include monitoring of the manure water while it is being pumped onto the field.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.

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