Iowa Rivers Revival Hails Opening of Manchester Whitewater Park


Public invited to grand opening celebration June 19-20.  “The stunning new whitewater park is a huge milestone for Iowa and the Maquoketa River,” said Jerry Peckumn, Board Chair of Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR).

For immediate release – Thursday, June 11, 2015.
Contact Roz Lehman, Director, Iowa Rivers Revival — 515-724-4093,

Manchester, Iowa. Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR), an organization that advocates revitalizing Iowa rivers and streams, congratulates Manchester, a northeast Iowa community celebrating the grand opening of its new Whitewater Park June 19-20.

Manchester removed a dam and created the state’s largest whitewater park, a magnet for kayakers, canoers, anglers, sight-seers, residents and visitors.

IRR encourages Iowans to join the “Let it Flow Riverfest” celebration June 19-20 or visit Manchester any time. The Riverfest festival is free and offers fun for all ages.

“The new Whitewater Park is a tribute to Manchester’s passion and dedication to reconnect residents and visitors to the Maquoketa River,” said Jerry Peckumn, Board Chair of IRR.

“This project is a true community collaboration,” Peckumn said. “It’s a result of public and private cooperation — partnerships between city, county and state governments, other public agencies, businesses, organizations, land-owners, and volunteers. They had a vision and plan. They converted a dangerous low-head dam into a safe and enjoyable attraction for recreation, economic development, and environmental stewardship for years to come.”

The Manchester Whitewater Park has enhanced safety along the river for recreation.   It has restored the Maquoketa River to a more natural state, providing better fishing, more aquatic life, and a healthier, cleaner river. It’s an investment that improves quality of life for the town and region.

A dozen Iowa low-head dams have been removed or modified over the last four years with State coordination, and 15 more projects are under way. Three include whitewater recreation features that bring visitors to Iowa and bolster their local economies – Charles City, Elkader, and now Manchester.

“Let it Flow Riverfest” weekend events, June 19-20 — You are invited:

Friday, June 19, 6:30-9:30 p.m.: Free live music from the Dunnshee Moon Band. Hog roast sponsored by The Watershed, Manchester’s canoe and kayak outfitter. Where: 252 River Street.

Saturday, June 20, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.: “Let it Flow Riverfest” at Shelly Park on South Franklin St. An opening ceremony with brief remarks will take place at 11 a.m. Activities include free kayak and tube rental sponsored by The Watershed, kayaking and tubing demonstrations, fly tying, fish aquarium, display booths, water recreation vendors, and much more. The downtown area will host a street fair, food vendors all day, a beer tent, a street dance, and a live band from 4-8 pm.


More Background – Manchester is IRR’s “River Town of the Year”:

Iowa Rivers Revival recognized Manchester as 2015 “River Town of the Year” for its revitalization efforts along the Maquoketa River. The efforts include:

⇒  Manchester Whitewater Park. The $1.8 million whitewater project – removing the nine-foot downtown dam, constructing six 18-inch drops and rocky pools over an 800-foot run, and enhancing the riverfront – is finished after construction all winter. The Whitewater Park, right in the heart of town, is a recreational playground for citizens and visitors, a setting for community events, a destination for anglers, a magnet for kayakers, canoers, and tubers. This rehabilitated section of the Maquoketa is coming back to life.

⇒ Revitalizing riverfront: expanding walking / biking trails along the river, with a goal of connecting several city parks; removing dilapidated buildings in the greenbelt; beautifying the riverfront; improving access for anglers and boaters; creating places for spectators; organizing cleanups; making a place for music events and public celebrations.

⇒ Making the Maquoketa a designated “Iowa Water Trail.” Manchester is working with the Iowa DNR River Programs office, Delaware County, land-owners, and other stakeholders to study, evaluate and plan for a state water trail designation for much of the Maquoketa River between Backbone State Park and Lake Delhi, including through Manchester. Water trail designation could improve access, signage, maps and other factors to foster increased and responsible use of the river.

⇒ Protecting the river and environment.  Manchester has invested over $8.6 million to improve its wastewater system over the last five years, and it plans to replace a sanitary sewer trunk line and seven blocks of sanitary sewer in 2015.

⇒ Restoring the river, and fostering fisheries.  Removing the dam, restoring free flow, creating pools, providing fish passage, and connecting habitats: all this will benefit fish and aquatic life up and down the river – and improve the prospects for anglers and wildlife viewers.

⇒ Removing the Quaker Mill Dam upstream. The dam is likely to be removed later this year, restoring the river, improving fish passage, making it safer (where two people have died), and reducing potential liability of private dam owners.  “It’s a win-win-win,” Peckumn said.

⇒ Returning to the river supports economic development and improves quality of life. Manchester knows its river projects will make it a better place to live and work, and an appealing place to visit. Charles City – with Iowa’s first dam-to-whitewater park conversion project – has proved that visitors will come and residents will enjoy such amenities. City officials say Manchester already has two new businesses “as a direct result of our river revival efforts” – The Watershed (a kayak and canoe livery business), and the Franklin Street Brewery overlooking the whitewater park.  Other river-related business ventures are in the works.

There are predictions that Iowa may become a “whitewater Mecca,” with three features running now and others expected. With three fairly close to one another (Charles City, Elkader, and Manchester), some out-of-state visitors might come to try two or three, or have three to choose from when water levels fluctuate in the three separate watersheds.

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⇒ IRR Manchester Press Release


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