DNR Update On Pipe Creek
FOND DU LAC – As the waters of Pipe Creek continue to recover from a large manure spill, some of which washed into southeastern Lake Winnebago, state health officials said Walleye Weekend anglers need only follow normal precautions in handling and cooking fish.
A small die-off of panfish along the east shore, south of the outfall of Pipe Creek, is not related to the manure spill, report fisheries biologists with the state Department of Natural Resources. Inspections of the fish today reveal it was caused by a normal outbreak of Columnaris disease, which primarily affects spawning fish in the spring. Numerous instances of columnaris are investigated annually by DNR around the state.
Fish in Pipe Creek and near the creek outfall that died as a result of the manure spill have been largely removed. Henry Anderson, an epidemiologist and chief medical officer for the state Department of Health Services, recommends against eating dead or dying fish that have floated to the surface, even if they appear “fresh.” As for fish caught normally with hook and line, he said, simply rinse the fish thoroughly before cleaning and cook well.
Anglers and others who come in contact with surface waters are advised to take the normal precaution of washing their hands afterward. As always, the safe procedure is to keep surface waters out of your mouth or sinuses. This advice applies to all surface waters as many kinds of bacteria and viruses are routinely present.
DNR spill coordinator Beth Erdman said today the investigation into the Memorial Day manure spill at the Lake Breeze Dairy on Kiel Road in Malone is ongoing. During land spreading operations, a leak in a pressurized hose released an estimated 50,000 gallons of liquid manure. Some of this manure entered Pipe Creek, killing fish for hundreds of feet downstream. Following cleanup activities and significant rainfall during the past few days the stream is returning to pre-spill conditions and fish have migrated back into the creek.
DNR officials said Wednesday the results of water testing in Pipe Creek at State Highway 151, at parks near the mouth of Pipe Creek, in the Calumet Harbor Marina and along the nearby lakeshore will be made available to the public as soon as laboratory results are available, likely within three to five days. The results will be given to the news media and will be posted online by both the DNR and the Fond du Lac County Health Department.
The county health department is testing two private drinking water wells at Columbia Park and Shaganappi Park, near the mouth of Pipe Creek, to ensure the groundwater remains uncontaminated. Those tests results will also be made public. The geology of the area makes it unlikely this surface spill could affect groundwater beneath the parks, said DNR agricultural runoff specialist Casey Jones.
Persons interested in being notified about the results of these two well tests by means of a recorded message delivered by a phone call are encouraged to contact Fond du Lac County health officer Kim Mueller at 920-929-3085 or by email at[email protected]. Simply leave your name and telephone number.
Additionally, a DNR lake biologist will assess the sediments settling at bottom of Calumet Harbor Marina to determine whether manure has settled there and whether environmental dredging is necessary.
Individuals with questions or concerns about the spill can contact DNR spill coordinator Beth Erdman at 920-303-5410 or by email at [email protected] or DNR agricultural runoff specialist Casey Jones at 920-303-5426 or[email protected].