- September 13, 2012 (Des Moines) – The Vision Iowa Board, through the RECAT program, awarded $62,000 to a Turkey River project that includes developing a whitewater feature at the low-head dam in Elkader. The smaller of the two dams in Elkader will be modified with special placement of large and small habitat boulders and a wave catalyst structure.
The Vision Iowa Program provides financial incentives to communities for the construction of recreational, cultural, educational or entertainment facilities that enhance the quality of life in Iowa. Currently, 362 CAT awards have been granted by the board, totaling $137,068,849; 10 RECAT projects have been awarded a total of $8,819,542.
- October 2, 2012, the Elkader City Council authorized the issuance of a grant anticipation loan agreement project note not to exceed $650,000. Money from the note will be used for a whitewater recreation area on the Turkey River, shelters, river access, parking and a performance area on the city’s southwest side, which is part of a buyout area that was devastated in the 2008 flood.
FAQs on the whitewater feature project:
1. Will the “little dam” be removed for the whitewater feature? The area provides good fishing spots.
The little dam will be modified and a wave catalyst added-the actual structure will remain. The little dam provides the drop needed for the wave catalyst to work. The fishing should not be negatively affected. In fact, the anglers in Charles City have found that the construction of their whitewater feature actually improved fishing. The boulders, scour holes and eddy lines provide new habitats for fish and the wing dams and large, flat boulders provide better access for fishermen. The local DNR fisheries biologist has been actively involved in the project.
2. Where is the entry point for canoes and kayaks? Will they start at the white water feature or upstream from it?
There are several entry points. One would be the current one on the east side of the river, across the street from the Rural Heritage Museum. Another, improved access point is planned on the west side by the little dam. As this is not a whitewater “course”, access can be provided right at the site of the little dam.
3. How was the location for the whitewater feature chosen?
See answer to #1. The little dam provides the drop needed to create the waves and holes necessary to create the whitewater play spot. The little dam spot also adjoins the downtown which will help to open up the area to the river and provide another reason for people to patronize local businesses.
4. How are the boulders going to be secured, especially in high water?
The feature has to be professionally engineered. The in-stream boulders are very large – 4-6 feet and made of granite. So their shear size will keep them in place. But there is also a mortar used in the installation process to help anchor them to the bedrock.
5. What is the length of the white water park? Is there only one location?
The work will be roughly 50 feet above and below the current little dam. As this is a whitewater “park and play” spot, there will be 1 -2 waves or holes created for whitewater kayakers, tubers, fisherman and others who just want to enjoy the rush of the rapids. This is not a whitewater “course” where people run gates or a long set of rapids.
However, there are areas downstream where natural “rapids” exist and the combination of the two will help to extend the rapids and opportunities for fish habitat enhancement.