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Ames Considering Safer Design for Skunk River Dam

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AMES, Iowa -- The Ames City Council is expected to vote on a proposal to work with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on possible replacement of the Skunk River Dam.

The dam structure is a low-head dam, meaning it can create some dangerous flows that can cause death to people in fishing vessels, powerboats, sailboats and canoes.

There have been no fatalities reported with the Skunk River Dam, however, the Skunk River Paddlers, the Story County Conservation Board, and others have approached the city about putting in a safer dam.

"There's progress toward having a big chunk of the South Skunk be a water trail including this section. It's really quite pretty working from Story City downstream. It gets a little more channelized as you head south of Ames toward Cambridge.
It's quite lovely up above. There's this whole green belt section and it's beautiful paddling," said Piper Wall, of Skunk River Paddlers.

The dam was constructed in 1984 to hold back water to recharge the Ames water well field nearby.

The DNR is offering an $85,000 grant toward designing a new structure. The total cost would be around $300,000. If the project moves forward, it could be built in the summer of 2017.