The very low river level allows the pillars of the old 2nd Avenue bridge to be seen in the Cedar River.

The Cedar River level today measures 2.28 feet, according to the National Weather Service/ U.S. Geological Survey readings continually updated HERE.

That’s nearly 20 feet below the 22.10 level at which the river crested just under a year ago, Sept. 25, 2016; that was the second-highest river level ever recorded, but about 3 feet lower than the record-setting devastation of the 2008 level or 24.7 feet.

The low river level does not cause nearly as much concern to humans as a flood imposes, but there are some impacts on wildlife and water lovers.

“The effect on our parks is minimal,” says Benton County Conservation Director Karen Phelps. “Low water levels mean no mosquitoes – which means happy campers. Fishing from our river parks will be effected as the deep holes may not be near the banks for easy access. Minne Estema has suffered the biggest impact due to flooding in past years, moving the sandbars closer to Minne’s shorelines. With the low water levels, there is no longer access to the river from Minne by boat.”
Also, says Phelps, the water level does affect the cycle of nature for river creatures.
“The fish will find the deep holes to stay in,” Phelps explains. “As nature is a cycle, those that can’t find areas to feed and seek shelter will become food for eagles, herons, mink, raccoons, etc.”
While some have felt a negative impact of the low water, Phelps says this situation is much better for county parks than high water.
“On a happier note, we are not dealing with the flood waters of last year at this time that had a huge adverse effect on our river parks,” Phelps says.
Vinton City Manager Chris Ward said the low river level does not have any impact on city water supply (Vinton relies on an underground aquifer) or its sewage treatment plant.
A USGS surveyor who worked on the river gauges on Wednesday says the low water level does not cause any serious problems, but can create headaches for his crews. They sometimes have to move equipment to keep it in flowing water, and the low levels can cause problems for their radar gauges.
History revealed
One of the other effects of the low water level, is the visibility of items that have been covered in the river bed for years, under water.
Just east of the Highway 150 bridge, two sets of broken-off pillars still protrude from the ground. Those pillars once held up the 2nd Avenue bridge, one of the first ways residents crossed into Vinton more than a century ago.