Who's Responsible For Clearing Debris From Riverbanks?

The water has gone but the mess is still there. But there are some interesting items left high and dry by the Missouri River flooding. The problem now is who's responsible for the cleanup?

The water has gone but the mess is still there.

But there are some interesting items left high and dry by the Missouri River flooding.

The problem now is who's responsible for the cleanup?

A walk over the Missouri River looks a little different than it did last year.

There's a lot of debris out there.

Most of it consists of trees and brush.

But Sara Schuhardt and Rebecca Herfkens noticed something a little different.

"It's interesting that there's this boat in the middle of the timber over here," Sara said.

Some time in August, the craft went on a little bit more than a three hour tour and wound up wedged in on the Council Bluffs side of the river just north of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.

Danny Gibson walks his dog here quite often and noticed it as well.

The problem is, whose responsible for removing it?

"I would think if its on city property the city is responsible but I have no idea. Whoever owns the property I guess," Gibson said.

The city tried to find the boat's owner but registration data was incomplete.

"If you lost your boat you would think you would go find it and that you would retrieve it," Sara said.

But not necessarily. City leaders figure the boat was abandoned and floated off someone's property up stream.

And retrieving it could be costly.

"It's not an easy place to get to either I don't think possibly more accessible from the Nebraska side than from the Iowa side, Rebecca Herfkens said.

Debris clean up along the river is the responsibility of the property owner.

Cities are eligible for reimbursement since the land is considered public property.

So while the area's latest flooding attraction will remain for a while other scars will linger longer.

"It's going to be years before you see the river banks the way they used to be," Gibson said.

Council Bluffs might be able to recover some of the cost for debris clean-up because the riverfront is considered public property.

But there is no money appropriated right now for private landowners. They are left on their own to clean up the debris themselves.

Keep in mind, dumping debris back into the river is illegal in both Iowa and Nebraska.


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