Fishing is a very popular recreational activity across the state of Iowa, no matter what season of year it is. But it’s not quite so fun when you’re not catching any fish! This family keeps getting bites, but as they reel in each big catch, it always ends up being a surprise what’s on the other end.

Iowa’s rivers, streams, and lakes too often end up being dumping grounds for all kinds of unwanted materials, from plastic bags and cardboard, to pop and beer cans, to big things like tires, car parts, and even worn-out washing machines! Every summer, the Iowa DNR leads volunteers on Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition). During Project AWARE 2013, volunteers removed over 34 tons (78,000 pounds) of trash from 91 miles of the Des Moines and Boone Rivers in just one week. This is a huge amount of trash, but just as alarming are the many other pollutants ending up in our waters that are often too small to see: sediment, nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), fertilizers and lawn chemicals, animal waste, bacteria, household chemicals, and more. Check out the rest of the WIYW series to learn more about each of these contaminants.

Be aware of your consumption patterns and how many things you throw away each day. Reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible! Check with your local city or county sanitary landfill about how to properly dispose of old tires, appliances, and household hazardous waste items. Educate yourself about water quality issues in our state, and share this information with your friends and family. Organize a group to carry out a trash pickup in your neighborhood. When we all work together, we can make a big difference!

Additional Resources

Enhanced Learning Activities

  • What Belongs in the Water? recommended for Grades K-2
  • The Clean Water Game recommended for Grades 1-5