Audubon fined for excessive sewage pollution • Iowa Capital Dispatch
Audubon fined for excessive sewage pollution • Iowa Capital Dispatch

A western Iowa city has agreed to pay an $8,000 fine for repeatedly emitting excessive levels of ammonia nitrogen in its wastewater that flows into the East Nishnabotna River, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said.

Audubon exceeded its ammonia limits in nearly every month of 2021 and 2022 and several months of 2023, according to a recent DNR order.

Elevated ammonia levels can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life and reduce oxygen levels in the water. The city said its pollution was caused by large amounts of pollutants coming from a rest stop that discharges its wastewater to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Waspy’s Truck Stop opened about six years ago and features a truck wash that cleans the inside of livestock trucks, dirt that was thought to be the cause of excessive ammonia levels in Audubon’s treated wastewater.

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The DNR also fined Waspy $8,000 this year, saying the company had exceeded pollutant limits (for ammonia nitrogen, waste solids, oil and grease) more than 500 times.

The rest stop has put up barriers to catch the manure and prevent it from entering the treatment plant. Audubon’s public works director was not immediately available for comment for this article, but said the situation is improving.

The DNR order states that Audubon was warned several times that pollutant limits were being exceeded, but the problem was not immediately corrected.

The city’s treated wastewater flows to the East Nishnabotna through a creek that was polluted downstream by a major fertilizer spill near Red Oak in March. The spill killed nearly all of the fish and other aquatic life along about 60 miles of the East Nishnabotna and Nishnabotna rivers.

By Liam