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Emergency repairs are being done to the Lower Dam on the Upper Iowa River

Posted: Tue, Jan 7, 2020 2:42 PM
(Photo courtesy of Iowa Whitewater Coalition)

An emergency project has begun to remove damaged gates from the southern segment of Lower Dam on the Upper Iowa River in Winneshiek County.

The $60,000 project will restore flow to nearly a mile of the Upper Iowa River.  The work will help to preserve downstream river access and the parking area by diverting scouring flows away from infrastructure and will  release sediment from the upstream section in a controlled manner.

This is the first phase of the project.  A second phase will address the issues of fish passing through and boaters navigating the river in the area of the gates.

"Canoeists and kayakers will not be able to navigate the river through the dam until the second phase of the project is completed," said Iowa Department of Natural Resources official Nate Hoogeveen, adding, "They will need to land upstream of the dam as they have before. Conditions will still be hazardous as at any dam."

Stability issues have been ongoing at the Lower Dam area since a large portion of the dam peeled off the top in the flooding of 2008, changing the course of the river. Since then, chronic bank failures have led to bluff slumps. Two projects to stabilize banks and set back the parking lot have cost $215,000 since 2010.  Future projects may cost a total of several hundred thousand dollars to further stabilize the banks and bluff and to keep the parking lot in its existing location.