Pipe Creek manure spill kills fish, could affect Lake Winnebago

Pipe Creek in Fond du Lac County is seen, May 29, 2014. (WLUK/Chad Doran)

MALONE - Dead fish are popping up in an area waterway after a Memorial Day manure spill in northern Fond du Lac County.

An estimated 50,000 gallons of manure spilled into Pipe Creek, which drains into Lake Winnebago. The spill happened at Lake Breeze Dairy Farm in Malone to the east of the lake.

The dead fish were easy to spot in Pipe Creek Thursday.

DNR officials say a manure spill into the creek Monday sucked up all the creek's oxygen as it moved toward Lake Winnebago.

"I've seen a number of manure spills and unfortunately the creek was in close proximity and a fair amount got into the creek and caused a significant fish kill downstream, so it's pretty significant," said DNR Agricultural Specialist Casey Jones.

The spill at Lake Breeze Dairy happened around 2 a.m. General Manager Mark Diederichs says the company spreading the manure for the farm was using 8-inch hoses.

"At 4:30 a.m. when he shut down, because he just had a small field, is when he noticed it."

Diederichs says the farm put its emergency plans in place and called the DNR.

"We did everything we could to mitigate the damage after but some still got where it wasn't supposed to be and it still makes us feel bad that it happened."

In addition to the fish kill, Jones says there are concerns about E. coli in the water. The creek drains into Lake Winnebago and runs through Columbia Park, a place normally busy with boaters and campers in the summer.

Dennis Fetterer is the manager of the campground. He says they're warning people campers about the spill.

"I tell them that there was a spill, we have no idea where it is, but our boss told us to make sure nobody goes swimming in the channel."

Jones says water samples were taken from the campground well but results could take until Friday.

As for the fish, Jones says it could be some time before the fish return and the creek gets back to normal.

"They'll come back eventually, once things flush through and clean out, but yeah it's a pretty bad environmental impact."

Jones says the farm's owners will likely be fined. She says it's too early to tell what, if any, other penalties the farm may face.