KCRG: Iowa Commits $10 Million to Watershed Projects

Iowa Commits $10 Million to Watershed Projects

IOWA CITY, Iowa – How do you stop a flood? Build walls? A reservoir? Since the 2008 flood we’ve all learned a lot more about dealing with rapidly rising water. And we know it’s better to stop a flood before it starts. Monday the Iowa Flood Center, at the University of Iowa, received millions of dollars to research flood prevention from the ground up.

After the floods of 2008, state leaders realized just how unprepared they were for massive flooding. Then, various organizations started planning different flood mitigation efforts. But they never had the money to follow-through with those plans until Monday.

“At this point we don’t even have adequate funding to even start,” said IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering Executive Director Larry Weber.

That was the underlying problem for Iowa officials trying to prevent massive flooding in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City from happening in the future.

“Preventative measures are key,” said East Central Iowa Council of Government’s Doug Elliott.

So Monday’s announcement of $10 million allocated to watershed demonstration projects and education will…

“…improve the water holding capacity of watersheds and watershed enhancements to reduce flood damage reduction from future floods,” said Weber.

The idea is to control water levels upstream at places like Clear Creek in Williamsburg to prevent flooding from happening downstream in urban areas like Iowa City.

“We have an idea of what we need to do at this watershed in terms of flooding, but the hard thing is always finding the implementation money,” said Watershed Coordinator James Martin.

Watershed Coordinator James Martin says that money will help buy more equipment that costs thousands of dollars.

“They’re getting data about the flow rate in this watershed,” said Martin.

Once researchers know just how much water has collected where, they can then start the buffering process.

“We often install structures, water impoundments, wetlands, buffer strips,” said Martin.

And the goal of flood prevention brews a new partnership between cities, counties, and homeowners.

“The individual landowners will be invited to participate in these processes,” said Elliott.

This money is part of the $84 million Iowa received from HUD over the summer. About half a million dollars will go toward educating Iowans about flood plain mapping and watershed management.

Iowans can provide input and learn more about the four-year mapping plan at the following times and locations.

-Clear Lake: Nov. 16, 9 a.m., Clear Lake Community Center, 15 N. Sixth St.
-Spencer: Nov. 16, 2 p.m., Spencer Public Library (ICN Room), 21 E. Third St.
-Des Moines: Nov. 17, 9 a.m., Wallace State Office Building Auditorium, 502 E. Ninth St.
-Atlantic: Nov. 17, 2 p.m., Atlantic Municipal Utilities, 15 W. Third St.
-Washington: Nov. 18, 9 a.m., Washington Public Library, 115 West Washington
-Independence: Nov. 18, 2 p.m., Falcon Civic Center, 1305 Fifth Ave. NE


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