Postville fair's DNR compliance questioned - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Postville fair's DNR compliance questioned

POSTVILLE (KWWL) -- What happened this weekend at one city's fairgrounds could mean trouble for fairs across the state.

The Iowa DNR almost shut down Postville's annual Big 4 Fair.

It all started Thursday, with a surprise visit from the Iowa DNR.

"It didn't turn out well," Postville mayor Leigh Rekow said.

The DNR told the city and the Big 4 Fair board that they were out of compliance. The run-off water from the animal wash rack could no longer just drain into a ditch.

"They said as soon as they notify us, the fine would be...ten-thousand dollars a day," Rekow said of the DNR, if the fair opened and simultaneously remained out of compliance.

The DNR came out to inspect the fairgrounds Thursday. The fair was set to open Friday.

"We had to act immediately," Rekow said.

The DNR response came after a call from a neighbor. The man, owner of the mobile home park next to the fairgrounds and a former city council member, said he was concerned the Big 4 Fair board didn't have a permit for its wash rack runoff.

The mayor said the city had asked the man "to clean up his property" prior to his phone call to the DNR.

In order to come into compliance just one day before the fair opened, the city and Big 4 Fair board made changes to the existing run-off system, which consisted of a drainage pipe that led from the wash rack, under the road, to a ditch on the other side.

The fix meant connecting the drainage pipe to a hose, which now pumps the run-off into a slurry holding-tank, instead of into the ditch, to be sprayed later on empty fields.

"This will stay in place," Big 4 Fair board president Mike Kruckenberg said. "They key is how we'll dispose of this in the future."

"They have until next year to get a long-term or permitted-type solution," Iowa DNR spokesperson Joe Wilkinson said, "which might be piping it through a sanitary sewer...or putting up a permanent tank."

The Big 4 Fair board has the coming year to run through its options.

As for other fairs, "they're eligible now," Rekow said. "They'll have to be on the alert."

Wilkinson said an inspection of any other Iowa fairgrounds would require a call of complaint or inquiry, as the Big 4 Fair's neighbor did. Wilkinson said the Iowa DNR is too understaffed to conduct a full sweep of every local fair in the state.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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