August 6, 2012
Update August 9, 2012: According to this Daily Journal story (pdf), “The Illinois EPA today asked Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office to take enforcement action against Hopkins Ridge Farms and others in connection with the fish kill in late July along 10 miles of Beaver Creek in northeastern Iroquois County.”
“Hopkins Ridge is a 2,500-hog confinement operation near the Indiana state line, four miles east of Beaverville. Acting IEPA chief John Kim asked that action be taken to halt further irrigation with livestock waste contaminated water — ‘the possible cause of the extensive fish kill.’”
Beaver Creek turned brown on July 25, 2012, and an estimated 63,000 fish died in approximately 10 stream miles. The creek is located in Iroquois County near the Indiana border, in an agricultural area. Local press have reported that the brown color is due to illegally dumped liquid hog waste, but there is still no official statement from the Illinois EPA identifying the culprit.
According to one article, locals consider the event “sickening,” and the polluted, smelly water may be around for a while given the drought conditions. Wildlife that depend on the creek may be affected for weeks to come, and need to seek other sources of clean water.
Prairie Rivers Network used Google Earth to survey upstream of the fish kill, and located a large factory farm (pictured at right). Animal waste appears to be stored in a large pond or lagoon on the property. Such waste is usually applied on nearby farmland. We are very concerned that the irrigation tracks on the neighboring field indicate the farm may be spraying waste very close to the creek. We therefore notified Illinois EPA, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the Illinois Attorney General’s office about our concerns. Even if this particular farm is not the guilty party in the fish kill, we felt it was important to point out that the farm may be land-applying waste too close to the creek.
We will continue to follow this story, and report back to you when we know more.