Background and Legislation
Flood of 2008
The concept for the Iowa Flood Center is rooted in the monumental efforts that took place on the University of Iowa (UI) campus in June 2008 before, during, and after the Iowa and Cedar Rivers crested in Eastern Iowa.
In between filling sandbags and moving out of flood-endangered buildings, UI researchers began collecting time-sensitive data on many aspects of the flood — from high-resolution data to document flood water elevations and contaminated sediments deposited by flood waters. The flood helped catalyze the formation of new teams of researchers from across the University’s campus to work together on flood-related initiatives. They also sought funding from a variety of sources; in the first 12 months after the flood, the University of Iowa was awarded more than $500,000 by the National Science Foundation for flood-related research.
A central issue that emerged from this work was the realization that there was no central place in Iowa (or in the nation) for advanced research and education focused on floods. Discussion and formulation of a plan to establish an Iowa-based center for flood research and education followed. The University of Iowa was the logical home for this center, based on the institution’s experience during the flood and because it is home to IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, one of the preeminent hydraulics laboratories in the United States.
In spring 2009, the state of Iowa established (and funded) the new Iowa Flood Center (IFC). This effort was spearheaded by several Iowa senators and representatives, with much behind-the-scenes work by IIHR research engineers Larry Weber and Witold Krajewski. A total of $1,300,000 was appropriated for the center in its first year (FY2010).
The IFC is now actively engaged in flood projects in several Iowa communities and employs several graduate and undergraduate students participating in flood-related research. IFC researchers have designed a cost-efficient sensor network to better monitor stream flow in the state; have developed a library of flood-inundation maps for several Iowa communities; and are working on a large project to develop new floodplain map for 85 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Legislation: The Iowa Flood Center Bill
IOWA FLOOD CENTER
Sec. 14. NEW SECTION
466C.1 IOWA FLOOD CENTER
The state board of regents shall establish and maintain in Iowa City as a part of the state University of Iowa an Iowa Flood Center. In conducting the activities of this chapter, the Center shall work cooperatively with the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Water Resources Coordinating Council, and other state and federal agencies.
The Iowa Flood Center shall have all of the following purposes:
- To develop hydrologic models for physically-based flood frequency estimation and real-time forecasting of floods, including hydraulic models of flood plain inundation mapping.
- To establish community-based programs to improve flood monitoring and prediction along Iowa’s major waterways and to support ongoing flood research.
- To share resources and expertise of the Iowa flood center.
- To assist in the development of a workforce in the state knowledgeable regarding flood research, prediction, and mitigation strategies.
- To conduct the activities required by this chapter in cooperation with various state and federal agencies.