Dam Mitigation

Take a look at our low-head dam mitigation map and check out the actual projects completed or underway:

Project: Manchester Whitewater Park
Manchester Whitewater Park

Begin Date: September 2014
Completion Date: Summer of 2015
IDNR Involvement: Provided a $200,000 Dam Mitigation Grant

Construction began in September of 2014 on the $1.8 million project. The new whitewater facility was funded in part by a $200,000 dam mitigation grant from the Iowa DNR. The whitewater park stimulates the local economy through increased use from paddlers, anglers and outdoor recreationalists including families who come down to picnic and watch at water’s edge. New local businesses rent out kayaks and inner tubes to tourists. Iowa's second whitewater park is another example of what can be done by removing or modifying low-head dams.

Manchester Whitewater Park Photo Gallery

Goldfield Dam to Rapids Conversion/Shell Rock River
Goldenfield Dam to Rapids Conversion/Shell Rock River

Begin Date: May 2014 
Completion Date: August 2014 
IDNR Involvement: $35,112 Mitigation Grant

A project to convert a former low-head dam into a small rock-arch rapids was completed in August, 2014. The project improved fish passage, navigation opportunities, angling access, and helped to stabilize eroding bluffs and create fish habitat upstream with three j-hook vanes. Iowa DNR supplied $35,112 in dam mitigation grants, and DNR mitigation staff assisted with project management, design, and construction supervision. Citizen donations and city funds covered the remainder of the $70,000 total project cost.

Quasqueton Dam Removal
Quasqueton Dam Removal

Completion Date: August 2014
IDNR Involvement: $68,000 Dam Removal Grant and Design

Contractors completed the project to convert the Quasqueton Dam into a rock arch rapids in late August. The project is on the Wapsipinicon River Water Trail in Buchanan County. DNR low-head dam mitigation grants of $68,000 and technical / design support helped make this project possible. 

Formerly, this dam led to situations like this rescue caught on video: Quasqueton Dam Rescue, 1993 [Youtube]

Elkader Whitewater Feature and Canoe Passage
Elkader Whitewater Feature

Begin Date: Fall of 2013
Completion Date: Spring of 2014
IDNR Involvement: $9,000 Dam Mitigation Grant

The Elkader Whitewater Feature and canoe passage was made possible by a strong local support system and with the help of a $9,000 dam mitigation grant from the Iowa DNR. “The Gobbler’, a standing wave feature, is proving to be a safe and challenging wave for play boaters. A canoe passage makes it easy for boaters to avoid the wave if they wish to just paddle past it.

Boone Waterworks Dam to Rapids
Boone during contruction

Completion Date: April 2014
IDNR Involvement: $184,000 Mitigation Grant, Design and Construction

It was a long winter of construction, but the Boone Waterworks Dam to Rapids Conversion project on the Des Moines River was completed in April of 2014.

Rockford Dam Removal

Completion Date: May 2014
IDNR Involvement: $30,000 Dam Mitigation Grant, Stream Restoration and Plantings

The Rockford Dam on the Shell Rock River was removed in 2014. Stream bank restoration immediately followed and has restored the river to a healthy habitat and improved navigation on a scenic part of the Shell Rock River for both paddlers and anglers.

Before Removal
before removal
After Removal
after removal
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Project: Klondike Dam to Rapids Conversion
Completion Date: May 2013
IDNR Involvement: $51,644 in state mitigation funds, design and construction

Before Modification
before mofification

After Modification
after modification

The Klondike Dam to rapids conversion project was completed in May, 2013. It involved removing the dam and construction a rapids that pools water to the same elevation of the dam to maintain water supply for a rural water system. The area is now safer, more accessible, and allows fish to pass upstream at both low and high water.

Project: Charles City Whitewater Park
Completion Date: 2011
IDNR Involvement: $366,120 Dam Mitigation Grants

Completed Whitewater Park
Charles City

Charles City is the home of Iowa's very first whitewater park. The modifications not only gave play boaters a place to safely spend time on the water, but it improved fish habitat and gave anglers of all ages a new place to fish year round. Since the grand opening in 2011, the park has drawn in paddlers, anglers and river enthusiasts from all over the midwest and has become an important economic, tourism and quality of life benefit to the Charles City area. See how it all turned out in the Iowa Outdoors video.

Project: Vernon Springs Dam to Rapids Conversion
Completion Date: 2010
IDNR Involvement: $128,279 Dam Mitigation Grant, technical assistance with final design and construction

Before Removal
vernon before

After Removal
Vernon after

The Vernon Springs Dam was converted to rapids in August, 2010, resulting in immediate reconnection of the upper Turkey River to the lake upstream and the river’s two main tributaries in Howard County for aquatic species. The structure eliminates re-circulating currents that contributed to past drownings while maintaining water elevation for a popular lake. Howard County Conservation Board initiated the project and raised funds. Minnesota stream restoration specialist Luther Aadland developed the concept design and conducted initial construction supervision; with Iowa DNR Rivers team members and DNR Engineering staff collaborating on final design and construction details. Funds supporting the project included DNR Low-head Dam Public Hazard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Passage, FEMA, and local business supporters.