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Gates removed on Upper Iowa River dam

This news story was published on January 9, 2020.
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Information from Iowa DNR

DECORAH – An emergency project to remove damaged gates from the southern segment of Lower Dam on the Upper Iowa River in Winneshiek County is underway. The $60,000 project restores flow to nearly a mile of the Upper Iowa River that was dewatered after the dam was built.

This initial project helps preserve downstream river access and the parking area by diverting scouring flows away from infrastructure, and releasing sediment from the upstream section in a controlled manner.

A second phase of the project will address the issues of fish passing through and boaters navigating the river in the area of the gates after sediment movements throughout high water events.

“Canoeists and kayakers will not be able to navigate the river through the dam until the second phase of the project is completed,” said Nate Hoogeveen, River Programs coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “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 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, and a future project may cost several hundred thousand dollars to further stabilize the banks and bluff to keep the parking lot in its existing location.

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