A Chilly River Clean-up

Volunteers help clean up the Iowa River.

Originally Posted on: October 30th, 2015

Overnight lows in the upper 20s didn’t stop a group of volunteers from gathering to clean up the banks of the Iowa River early last Saturday morning. If you’re going to break out your winter coat, hat, and gloves before November, it may as well be for a good cause: keeping litter out of Iowa’s waterways.

Oct. 17 marked the fourth year that staff, students, and community members have joined hands to help keep Iowa City’s portion of the river beautiful. This year, 24 volunteers collected two truckloads of trash in just a couple hours. The trash was then sorted into recyclables and non-recyclables. Among the unusual items found this year were two couch cushions, an appliance dolly, and intact, unopened beverage containers.

University of Iowa Office of Sustainability Director Liz Christiansen says her office supports the clean-up because it’s a way to reconnect the community with the Iowa River. “Besides just cleaning up, those who participate see what trash does to our riverfront, and they become personally committed to improving our natural resources,” she adds.

Sponsors of the Great Annual Iowa Riverwalk Clean-up were IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, the City of Iowa City, UI Facilities Management, the Engineering Staff Advisory Council, the Iowa Geological Survey, and the UI Office of Sustainability.

  • Strange Finds

    One volunteer found an abandoned bike lock that had somehow made its journey to the water.

    A volunteer holds a bike lock on the bank of the Iowa River
  • Helping Hands

    Student employees from the University of Iowa Water Plant helped lead the volunteers.

    A volunteer in a safety vest holds a garbage bag outside
  • A Plethora of Plastic

    Plastic bottles, glass, and aluminum cans are often found stuck between the rocks.

    A water bottle sits on the rocks next to the Iowa River
  • Cleaning Campus

    One group of volunteers headed north of Burlington Street to clean the banks on the University of Iowa campus.

    Volunteers pass trash up from the river
  • A Close-up Look

    A bonus to volunteering is getting an up-close look at the Burlington Bridge Dam.

    Volunteers help clean up the Iowa River.
  • Reusable Bags

    Volunteers used reusable mesh bags to collect trash.

    Someone picks up trash from the banks of the Iowa River
  • The Volunteers

    A total of 24 students, staff, and community members volunteered to help collect trash from the banks of the Iowa River.

    A group of volunteers pose for a photo