An annual effort to clean up several miles of an Iowa waterway will launch one week from today. Project AWARE, which stands for A Watershed Awareness River Expedition, will focus on the lower Des Moines River between in Wapello, Davis, Van Buren, and Lee Counties.
Lynette Seigley is coordinator of the project for the Iowa DNR. This marks the 14th year for Project AWARE. “Pretty much anything that you would find in your house we’ve pulled out, in terms of different appliances, and we find a lot of scrap metal,” Seigley said.
The most common item found in Iowa rivers by the volunteers is tires. “Over the 13 years of the event, we’ve pulled out close to 4,800 tires,” Seigley said. This year marks the first time in a decade that Project AWARE has focused on a waterway in southeast Iowa.
Seigley expects volunteers will find a lot of what she calls “legacy” trash. “It’s trash that’s been in the river for a number of years,” Seigley said. “We certainly do find the occasional pop cans, plastic bottles, and the more recent trash that’s made its way into the rivers. But, I would say most of the trash is legacy trash.”
The expedition from July 11 to 15 will cover 53 miles of the lower Des Moines River between Eldon and Farmington. Last year, over 400 volunteers paddled and cleaned 65 miles of the Wapsipinicon River through Buchanan, Linn, and Jones Counties in eastern Iowa. Seigley says those volunteers pulled 30 tons of trash from the river.