June 27, 2006
WAPELLO - Hundreds of trash-collecting volunteers reached the
Mississippi Saturday as the fourth annual Project AWARE (A Watershed
Awareness River Expedition) came to a close.
This year, the weeklong river cleanup took participants to the Iowa
and English rivers in southeast Iowa. Beginning near Iowa City on
June 17, the expedition reached the mouth of the Iowa River on June
24. Project AWARE 2006 ended with a celebratory luncheon in Wapello.
Along the way, the more than 150 volunteers collected a record
amount of garbage, pulling an estimated 24 tons of tires,
appliances, pop cans, glass bottles, car parts, bicycles, discarded
clothes and other items from the rivers. Roughly 85 percent of that
garbage was recycled.
"I just think it's something that needs to be done," said AWARE
volunteer and Van Meter resident Dick Howard. "The river's been
mistreated for a long time."
Low water levels and a more-populous surrounding area helped
volunteers find much more trash than in previous years. On the first
day of Project AWARE 2006, volunteers found more garbage than they
collected during last year's entire event, which covered the Little
Sioux River. All told, this year's haul tripled the amount found in
As in previous years, volunteers removed all that garbage by hand,
heading out in canoes and kayaks to scour the water and riverbanks
for trash. Volunteers could join the expedition for as little as a
day or as long as the entire week. The project also provided free
canoes and camping, low-cost meals and evening "infotainment"
programs about natural resources topics.
www.iowaprojectaware.com for more information.
Some of the estimated 12-tons of scrap metal collected during this
year's AWARE will end up in a work of art. As in previous years,
Ogden artist David Williamson will help volunteers mold
AWARE-collected metal into a sculpture. Look for interactive
metal-smelting and sculpture-molding events during July's Johnson
County Fair and August's Iowa State Fair.