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Low Head Dams

Low-head dams are extremely dangerous and have led to fatalities of Iowa anglers, boaters, paddlers, tubers, swimmers, and would-be rescuers. Powerful recirculating hydraulics at these small dams can trap and drown unsuspecting river users. Iowa DNR educates all river users about these hazards, provides support for dam-owners to install warning signs in vicinities of dams, and works with dam owners to mitigate safety hazards and fish passage barriers at dams.


Dam at Redfield, Iowa

Dam Mitigation Grants Available
The Iowa Legislature appropriated funds for fiscal year 2015 for the development of dam mitigation and water trail projects. A portion the funds are available competitively for dam mitigation cost-share grants. Dam owners and other eligible entities are encouraged to apply for cost-share assistance for projects that reduce recreational hazards and enhance aquatic species connectivity. For guidance on how projects might be approached, please read “Solving Dam Problems: Iowa’s 2010 Plan for Dam Mitigation” and/or “Developing Water Trails in Iowa.”

Application form: Dam Mitigation Grant Application
Application Form: Dam Mitigation Grant Application
Application post-mark deadline: Closed
Total amount available: $500,000

Paddle Safe
Iowa DNR wants you to be safe on the water. A good start toward knowing what you need to know on the water in paddlecraft is the American Canoe Associations "SmartStart" brochure. To order paper copies for your group, please e-mail Any time you go out on the water, wear your PFD!


                   paddlers below the Mon Maq Dam

Dam locations
Be safe, and be prepared. Accidents, sometimes deadly, occur at low-head dams every year. Check this recently updated map of dams on major rivers in Iowa for the segment of river you plan to use.

See our DNR River Programs Drowning Machine brochure that explains why dams are deadly and tips that will help you avoid these hazards on Iowa's rivers.