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FAIRBANK — The City Council in Fairbank finalized a local law Monday prohibiting climbing on the dam over the Little Wapsipinicon River.

To do so, it passed the third and final reading of Ordinance 351, adding a new city code section outlawing occupying any portion of the Fairbank Dam and its structures, under chapter 42, which discusses public and private property.

Then the council adopted the ordinance.

It reads, “It is unlawful for any person to walk on, climb on, stand on, or occupy any portion of the Fairbank Dam or its elevated structures.”

At 12 feet high and 289 feet long, the dam over the Little Wapsipinicon River — built in 1880 — is a low-head dam.

City staff has ordered signs indicating to keep off the dam.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, “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.”


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