Manawa Bend Missouri River Cleanup 2015

Lake Manawa State Park - Council Bluffs, IA
Saturday, June 13th, 2015

This was our first time cleaning up the Missouri River just downstream of the Omaha/Council Bluffs Metro area. We partnered with Fontenelle Forest to tackle mounds of trash deposited by the 2011 flood along the Manawa Bend. 

The event, sponsored by Back to the River, was part of "The Great Big Muddy Meet Up" - a Missouri River Clean-up on Saturday, followed by an interactive education day on Sunday for the whole family called "Learn About the Mighty Missouri". 

Agency boats from the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helped shuttle 168 volunteers in the moist heat and swarms of mosquitos to help us remove 5.5 TONS of junk from the river!  We initially thought it would weigh in at around 10 tons, but if you check out the trash tally, there was boatload, after boatload of large Styrofoam blocks filling our dumpsters.

2015 manawa - council bluffs - omaha cleanup
Agency boats from the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helped shuttle 168 volunteers to pre-scouted banks of the Missouri River. Photo by Paul Lepisto.
Saturday turned out to be a really cool & cloudy day.  We got 7.5 miles of the river clean with all of our hard working volunteers.  As always, deepest thanks to the Missouri River Relief crew, those great volunteers that travel multiple states to safely get people on the river and clean it up! 
A Big Muddy Thanks to Waste Management & Remelt Industries, for the 3 roll off dumpsters; the City of Council Bluffs for donating the giant front-end loader (perfect!); the Iowa Dept. of Transportation for donating those perfect sized orange trash bags.  And to our food sponsors, Sam & Louie's, Hyvee and Subway.  All crucial to helping clean up the Missouri River!  Thanks!
2015 manawa
Thank you to City of Council Bluffs for donating the giant front-end loader. These always make our trash hauls so much more efficient! Photo by Melanie Cheney.

Thanks to all of our amazing Sponsors!  None of this would happen without dedicated sponsors, who donate cash, supplies and hard work to keep this river clean-up project humming.

Check out our collection of photos from the day~!  There might just be one of YOU!

2015 manawa bend - council bluffs - omaha cleanup
There was boatload, after boatload of large Styrofoam blocks filling our dumpsters. Photo by Melanie Cheney.

Trash Tally:

139 Bags of Trash!

88 Tires
80 Chunks of Styrofoam
3 Coolers &1 Lid
11 – 5 Gallon Buckets
1 – 55 Gallon Metal Barrel
1 Plastic Jug
1 Small Metal Drum
16 – 55 Gallon Plastic Barrels
2 Plastic Bins
1 Orange Long Hose
1 Gas Tank
1 Metal Motor
1 White Tube
1 Trash Can
1 Refrigerator
1 Metal Freezer Door
2 Large Propane Tanks
14 Small Propane Tanks
2 Vinyl Doors
1 Fishing Pole
4 Wood Pallets
2 Long Boards
1 Dock
1 Bunch of Construction Mesh
1 Mattress
1 Box spring
1 Couch
1 Dresser
1 Desk
10 Pieces of Metal
1 T-Post
1 Broom Handle
10 Chunks of Plastic
1 Blanket
1 Picnic Table
1 Rubber Hose
1 Refrigerator Door
1 Time Machine
1 Dog House
1 Pesticide Jug
1 Metal Frame
2 Air Tanks
1 Metal Boat Trailer
2 Truck Fuel Tanks
2 Plastic Bumpers
1 Roll of Flashing
1 Construction Hose
2 Doors
1 Can of Paint
1 Porcelain Toilet
1 Window Frame
1 Little Tiny Wooden Door
4 Wood Pieces
1 Chimney Flue
2 Plastic Poles
Orange PVC
2 Florescent Bulbs
1 Electric Box off a Dock
1 Large Pool Liner
1 Spoon
1 Kiddies’ Pool
1 German/Dutch Wooden Sign
4 Small Pieces of Metal
2 Pieces Sheet Metal
1 Buoy
3 Dock Cover Poles
1 Piece Framework
1 Antique Gas Car
1 Outdoor Swing Frame
1 Television
1 Life Vest
1 Shower
1 Jug of Waste Oil
1 Chemical Spray Tank
3 Bottles of Various Hazardous Waste
Some Length of Marine Rope
1 Boat Seat Cushion
3 Small Buckets
4 Rubbermaid Totes
3 Balls
Mess of Wet Carpet
1 Mysterious Metal Box
1 Van Seat
2 Giant Tractor Tires
1 Refrigerator
1 Bone
Unique looking jar
Formed Blue Blob
2 Green Bottles
2 White Bottles
1 Brick
1 Bullet
1 Arrow
1 Mailbox
1 Old beer can
1 Windshield Wiper
1 Pair Sunglasses
1 Vacuum Hose
1 Tie Down

2015 manawa bend - council bluffs - omaha cleanup
Volunteers bring their interesting finds on the river to compete in our trash contest! Photo by Fontenelle Forest staff.

Trash Contest Winners:

Weirdest Trash:
Time Machine

Best Animal Find:
Fish Body

Biggest Trash:
A Port-a-potty, discovered at Mile Marker 640

Oldest Trash:
Spray Can

Best Muddy Ball:
A super muddy basketball

Most likely to be used as a Weapon:

Most Artistic Trash:
Cool glass block

Most Fashionable Trash:
Power Wheel

Most Useful Trash:
Porcelain Toilet

2022 Confluence Cleanup
We find just about anything on the river! Photo by Steve Schnarr.
Manawa Bend Cleanup Results

Photo album on Flickr

Photo album on Facebook


Total Volunteers: 168

  • Boats: 9 (5 MRR, 2 NGPC, 1 ACOE)
  • River Miles Cleaned: 7.5 (MM609 - MM601.5)
  • River Stage: 17.9-ft. @ Omaha gauge
  • Landfill: 3.06 tons
  • Scrap Metal: 1 ton
  • Tires: 88 - 1.54 tons

Total Trash Tonnage: 5.5 tons

Groups Participating: Missouri River Relief Crew, Back to the River, Fontenelle Forest, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Izaak Walton League, Pacific Life Insurance, Apple Store, Americorps, 4H Imagination Creation Club, Stratcom, AFWA, Mighty Stream Team 211, Offutt Air Force Base, University of Omaha

Fun Team Names: Dream Team, The Excursioners, Heggeman Construction, River Junkies, Pallid Sturgeon, The Trash Boat, The Twerps, River Racoons, The Whales, The Gingers, Team Whelan, Omaha Swans, The Crowbars

A Big Muddy Thank You To Our Event Sponsors:

national park service

Harrah's Council Bluffs

Sam & Louie's New York Pizzeria





Event Partners

Education Partners

UNO Outdoor Venture Center

Sierra Club

Green Bellevue

Henry Doorly Zoo

Heron Haven


Local Motive Food Truck

Brickway Brewery

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MRR is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Federal Tax ID (EIN) 03-0425187
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