- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

GRAF, Iowa (AP) - An unknown amount of manure from a dairy operation in northeast Iowa spilled into the Little Maquoketa River over several days, officials said Thursday.

The state Department of Natural Resources said the spill has been linked to a report of dead fish in the river, though an exact amount has not been released. Officials said they will attempt to count the dead fish Friday.

The spill was traced to the Lawler Dairy Farm near Graf in Dubuque County. One of the owners told officials the spill began around Sept. 13 and continued for several days. It released an unknown amount of manure during that time.

Officials determined manure overflowed from an existing earthen basin to a grassed waterway. That entered a ravine which flows into a tributary of the Little Maquoketa River.

The farm owners at first built a pit next to the overflowing basin to help contain the manure. They later temporarily dammed the tributary to the river by building a dike at the property line, in an effort to pump manure from the stream into a nearby pasture.

DNR officials say the farm was late in reporting the spill and had an unregistered basin. The case remains under investigation.

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