DES MOINES, Iowa- This week rivers and streams in central Iowa continued to be very low in water depth. A national network of stream gauges measured an all-record low for the date of October 19 at Four Mile Creek in Des Moines.

The low water leaves the land scape looking different, and is an attraction to people to walk the creek bed to look for trash or other items.

“You got to just be real careful if you want to go walking beside a stream or on a stream, one thing you’ve got to be mindful about is some of that stream bed is private property,” said Todd Robertson, river outreach coordinator for the Iowa DNR.  “There’s a difference between meandering stream and not meandering, so all we’re saying is if you’re going to go out, to go fossil hunting, pick up some litter along the river, but just know where you’re at; know that it is private property or is a public property.”

Robertson said there is also a concern about safety, even though there is not much water.

“We really highly recommend you do where your life jacket because a stream bed along the river is not a flat road,” said Robertson.  “It’s up and down with scoured out areas that you could actually sink into over your head, so you need to be really careful when you’re walking it’s best to wear a life jacket, that’s a safe way to do it.”

While this may be a good time of year to get out and pick up trash with the water so low, there is an organized effort each year to do some of that.

“We do have project AWARE that’s done every year and we do a certain section of stream,” said Robertson. “That’s a combined effort a lot of different agencies getting involved, we pull out tons of trash off the river a lot of tires, things like that.” 

This year project AWARE tackled a stretch of the Iowa River, east of Marshalltown.

The Iowa DNR does not promote walking on stream beds, due to the potential danger, but there is no law against it, as long as walkers are not trespassing on private land.