Army Corps to Close Coralville Dam to Public

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

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By Forrest Saunders

CORALVILLE LAKE, Iowa - This time of year you can always find people at the Coralville Dam. They’re walking on pedestrian paths and trying to climb to the top of the emergency spillway. “That was very hard,” said Tonya Stratton standing on the spillway. “I had to try four times.”

Sunday, the populous swelled like the water. Spectators craned necks and found precarious perches to get a peek at the deluge below. “Well, we wanted the grandkids to see the spillway,” said Debbie Grosskreutz.

The Army Corps of Engineers said it’s a common occurrence. They estimate their population has grown three to four times higher than a normal day.

There are so many people, officials have started to get worried. They said this sudden spectator hotspot has started to slow down their daily duties. "We need to do a lot of extra things when we have high water. All the traffic and pedestrians make it too hazardous for everybody involved," said Terry Escher, a park ranger at the dam.

The Corps is shutting the area down, Monday night at 10. They’ll be barricading the road that runs across the dam on the east and west side. No vehicles or people will be allowed on that section of road, or the nearby spillway. The closure also includes the Tailwater East and Cottonwood campgrounds. “It’s just better for everybody, to keep everybody out,” said Escher.

It may cause a fuss for those who want to snap some close-ups of flood waters. But others, like Max Wetherell, said they understand. “I know a lot of people, myself included, might get a little irritated about it, but they’re trying to look out for us. We should respect that,” said Wetherell.

Though not as close, there will be a couple viewing areas still open to the public, like the Visitor Center on the east side of the dam and the West Overlook Dump Station. You can also check out water levels with an online web cam at www.coralvillelake.org.
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