Iowa Low Head Dams Reference

Welcome! The Iowa Low Head Dams Reference is a truly unique resource for anyone who may recreate on or near waters within the state of Iowa. This state has about 3300 dams of varying styles and widely ranging levels of danger. Dam-related incidents in Iowa have claimed more than 180 lives since 1900.

Dams increase the risk of any water related activity, and all river users must be cognizant of the dangers posed and know how to avoid deadly encounters. A low head dam with just a few inches of water drop can create entrapping hydraulics just as deadly as those created by taller dams.

This website presents The Dam Facts which provides brief answers to some frequently asked questions. A Primer on Low Head Dams briefly describes water trails, low head dams, side effects of dams, and opportunities for safety improvements and economic development.

The Dams Map page provides a graphical overview of the state, its rivers and marker icons representing the locations of the most signicant dams in the state. Hover the mouse pointer over an icon to display the name of the dam or feature at that location. Most icons can be clicked to display details about the dam in a new window.

The Rivers Index page provides a list of Iowa rivers and the dams along each river. Each dam description page provides photographs (as available), site specific hazard listing and portage options. Each dam page also has links to the next dams upstream or downstream from the current dam.

Dam owners and water trail developers should be sure to check Iowa DNR & Dam Safety page to learn about state and federal programs that can be utilized to improve safety at dams and to develop new water trails.

The Fatalities page provides a memorial listing of victims and dates with links to the dams that claimed their lives.

There is a lot on additional information already posted on the world wide web. Check out the Links page to learn more about dam danger and safety. This page also includes links to interesting resources focused on dam removal.

Click or tap here to view Tom Lindblade's video 'Low Head' that shows how to recognize and avoid dams.

You can help make the Iowa Low Head Dam Reference better by submitting updates to the editor of this website. Please send photographic and detail updates to Iowa Whitewater Coalition by email to . You can also mail data CDs, photocopies of newspaper clippings and other hardcopy documentation to:


You agree that use of this service is at your own risk. Information on this site is provided by third parties, the operator of this website or its affiliates who do not warrant the accuracy, quality or non-infringement of the information provided. The operator of this website or its affiliates will not be liable for any claims or damages resulting from use of information obtained on this web site. Any form of water-related activity is inherently dangerous with a high risk of serious injury or death.

This website is designed to help educate the public about the dangers of low head dams in Iowa. The website cannot list all of the potential sites of risk on the state's waters or current conditions or safety advisories for any particular location. Iowa Whitewater Coalition recommends that all people choosing to recreate on or near lakes, streams and rivers should seek additional information for the chosen activity and location and take all appropriate safety precautions including the use of personal floatation devices (PFDs).