Letter to the editor: River still a giant dumpster for some

This old school bus has been slowly falling into the Raccoon River for more than 10 years. The river was treated as a waste dump for many years.

To the editor:

The old school bus seen in the picture above has been slowly falling into the Raccoon River for more than a decade. It is located up stream from Dawson. Ten years ago the wreck was much higher up on the river bank.

On the left in the photo is a little red pickup truck, and on the right is an old VW mini van. They will be in the water in a few years or less.

Some people think the rivers in Iowa are conduits for waste, and they do not consider them as streams of life to many things — plants, animals and human beings. The Raccoon River is a source of drinking water for 500,000 people, but some folks upstream don’t seem to care.

“Folks have dumped all sorts of stuff in the rivers of Iowa for years, dead animals, household sewage, farm equipment and even cars and buses,” according to my fellow Raccoon River Watershed Association member Mike Delaney. “This old attitude toward our rivers continues with the careless discharge of farm chemicals and hog manure. The Big Ag industry cries, ‘It is not us. It is God.’ However, the Raccoon River is impaired — officially documented — for bacteria and nitrates. It used to run clear and clean when God was in charge.”

Anyone interested in this and similar challenges to the environment of the Raccoon River should attend the next meeting of the Raccoon River Watershed Association, Saturday, Dec. 5 at 10:30 a.m. at the Hotel Pattee, 1112 Willis Ave. in Perry. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Ray Harden, Perry


  1. In the ephemeral stream next to my home, there is a lot of litter from apartment residents and from illegal dumpers who take advantage of the large dumpsters. I know of six tires, three recently dumped and three partly buried in the sandbars. Food trash from a nearby convenience store and a fastfood drive-thru is rampant.

    A contributing factor may be the high proportion of recent immigrants who do not understand English. Clearly outreach is needed to convey the importance of caring for our local setting. That could take a generation or two, but it might happen faster.

    Perry may have similar concerns with recent speakers of other languages. On the other hand, residents whose first language is English and whose families go back generations in the US also are at fault, and therefore responsible.

    I have much praise for the river cleanup crews who get out on foot and by watercraft to haul junk that isn’t theirs. And I have much praise for Ray Harden for his continued efforts to keep the health of our streams in our minds.


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