LITTLETON, Iowa — Residents of a small community in eastern Iowa remain skeptical about plans to remove a low-head dam, saying there’s no need to change a structure that has been in place for nearly a century.

The project to remove the Littleton Mill Dam is part of the state Department of Natural Resources’ effort to get rid of hazardous low-head dams, which can be a drowning danger, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported . Nine people have died near the dam since it was built in 1934.

The dam has been considered for removal since 2008. The department had the property easement for one side of the river but not the other. The department acquired the second easement this summer, making it more likely for the more than $400,000 project to move forward.

The project aims to replace the aging dam with rock rapids. It’ll keep the recreation and wildlife in the area intact while removing the water hazard and making it easier for fish to navigate the waters, said Nate Hoogeveen, the department’s river programs coordinator.

He said the plan is a reasonable alternative that preserves most of what residents enjoy about the dam. The project now needs to get funding and permitting, Hoogeveen said. It’ll take about four to six weeks to complete once construction begins.

Littleton resident Nancy Coventry said the project is a waste of money to change something that doesn’t need replacing. She said most people take the appropriate precautions around the dam.

“The status quo, to us, right now is all right,” Coventry said. “Why ruin something that’s been status quo for just about 90 years?”

Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier,

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