• RRWA

Press Statement (April 2021)




For Immediate Release

Contacts: Chris Henning, Raccoon River Watershed Association – (515) 370-2436

Christine Curry, Raccoon River Watershed Association – (207) 460-7532


Raccoon River Makes List of Top Ten Most Endangered Rivers

‘All Iowans Deserve Better’ says Raccoon River Watershed Association (RRWA)

Des Moines (IA) – The Raccoon River in central Iowa has been declared one of America’s top ten most endangered rivers, according to a report issued today by the national river advocacy group, American Rivers. The report’s list of endangered rivers also includes the Lower Missouri River, which borders the western half of Iowa.

Today’s announcement is doubly noteworthy: first, the Raccoon River is the main source of drinking water for roughly 500,000 people in the Des Moines metro area and supplies drinking water for many small towns along its banks. And especially concerning, Iowa is the only state to contain two rivers listed in the top ten most endangered in America.

“It’s particularly concerning to have one river in Iowa make this list, but to have two should be ringing alarm bells to all Iowans concerned with what we are doing on the land and to our rivers,” said Chris Henning, farmer, landowner and chair of the Raccoon River Watershed Association.

“We believe Iowans deserve better care of our rivers,” said Henning. “All of us live upstream from some and downstream from others – we’re interconnected. We have both a responsibility to keep our watersheds healthy while also helping to protect the quality of life for all who depend on the river.”

The Raccoon River Watershed Association (RRWA) was established in 2005 to preserve and enhance the River and its watershed through education, research, community engagements and meaningful partnerships. Dedicated to the stewardship, preservation, and enhancement of the Raccoon River watershed, so citizens can safely enjoy swimming, fishing, canoeing, hunting, hiking, bird watching and other outdoor recreational activities, the association engages in education, networking, cleanup, assessment and policy making to achieve these ends. The RRWA also works to engage and help landowners and farmers within the 2.3 million-acre-watershed to utilize better practices including buffers, cover crops, no-till, increased soil health, more crop diversity and working wetlands as ways to reduce erosion, increase water infiltration and actually improve the water quality as it leaves the farmland.

“I know from my own farming operation that using these kinds of solutions actually work to keep the water and soil on the land versus running off and contaminating our rivers like the Raccoon,” said Henning of rural Greene County. “And it’s more profitable and keeps the soil surface much more stable. The river benefits – and as outdoor enthusiasts, so do we! What’s not to like?”

“For decades, Iowa has been a place known for its quality of life, one that served to draw new people and businesses as well as lure former Iowans back home,” said Christine Curry of West Des Moines, a RRWA board member, recently a returnee to Iowa herself. “This kind of notoriety for two of our largest rivers helps to undo that reputation. This is one of many reasons we need to take better care of our rivers and watersheds!”

Every year, American Rivers issues a report on the top ten most endangered rivers. The threats include a myriad of negative impacts to rivers and their associated ecosystems, including dams, flooding, pollution, agriculture, and neighboring development. This year’s report can be found at https://endangeredrivers.americanrivers.org/ .

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