Flood Inundation Map: Elkader

A new web-based flood preparedness tool developed at the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) can help Elkader residents know what to expect from the Turkey River at times of high flows.

The new Elkader flood inundation maps are available to the public on the Internet through the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS), an interactive Google Maps-based online application.  Homeowners and business owners will now be able to see how predicted flood levels might affect their individual properties.

Witold Krajewski, IFC director, says improving flood preparedness is one of the IFC’s key goals. “This is an opportunity for us to produce research that is useful and meaningful for Iowans. Our high-resolution web-based flood inundation maps illustrate where floodwaters will go under different conditions.”

He adds, “We believe this extra measure of preparedness can save property, resources, and lives.”

With these maps, Iowa Flood Center researchers are taking the guesswork out of future flood scenarios for Elkader and several other Iowa communities. When floods struck Iowa in the past, uncertainty was part of the problem. Property owners were unsure if projected floodwaters would reach them, and how they ought to prepare.

IFC engineers use bathymetric surveys of the riverbed to determine the shape of the channel and aerial LiDAR (laser radar) data. With this information, researchers can create very detailed maps of the streambed and floodplain to illustrate where floodwaters will go under different conditions.

The detailed flood inundation maps are available online for a number of Iowa communities including Cedar Rapids, Charles City, Des Moines, Elkader, Hills, Iowa City, Mason City, and Waterloo/Cedar Falls. Additional communities will be mapped in the future.

To use the interactive online maps, use the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS). Launch IFIS, and click “Flood Maps” to view the inundation maps.

The Iowa Flood Center is part of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a unit of the UI College of Engineering. The IFC was created in 2009 in the aftermath of the historic 2008 Iowa floods and is supported by state appropriations to improve flood monitoring and prevention in Iowa.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sara Steussy, Iowa Flood Center, 319-384-1729,

Minimizing the Impact of Flooding

Iowa Flood Center selects four watersheds for Iowa Watersheds Project

UI News Service, May 9, 2012

Agricultural Drainage _ Watershed

The Iowa Flood Center will work with four watersheds in Iowa on projects that help minimize the impact of flooding. UI News Service file photo by Tom Jorgensen.

The Iowa Flood Center and IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering (IIHR) at the University of Iowa have announced the selection of four watersheds for the initial phase of the Iowa Watersheds Project.

The selected entities and respective watersheds include:

–Clayton County for the Turkey River.
–Dallas County for the Middle/South Raccoon River.
–Davis County for Soap Creek and Chequest Creek.
–Floyd County for the Upper Cedar River.

The selected watersheds will partner with the Iowa Flood Center and IIHR on a multi-year project to monitor, plan, and implement watershed projects aimed at reducing the adverse impacts of flooding in Iowa. Specific goals of the watershed projects include:

–Maximizing soil water holding capacity from precipitation.
–Minimizing severe soil erosion and sand deposition during floods.
–Managing water runoff in uplands under saturated soil moisture conditions.
–Reducing and mitigating structural and nonstructural flood damage.

In the initial phase of the project, researchers at the Iowa Flood Center and IIHR will work with local entities to complete a detailed hydrologic assessment of each watershed that will identify areas where the implementation of flood mitigation projects is most likely to reduce downstream flood damages. Funds will be available during the second phase of the project for the design and construction of watershed projects in identified areas of the watersheds.

Specific watershed mitigation projects for this study will be determined in the second phase. Potential projects may include water storage structures, flood plain restoration, buffer strip installation and enhancement, advanced tile drainage systems, and flood easement acquisition.

The constructed watershed improvement projects will be monitored by researchers throughout the study and evaluated at completion to demonstrate their impact and effectiveness. The results from the Iowa Watershed Projects will provide critical information to guide the implementation and design of additional watershed projects across the state of Iowa.

Funding for the Iowa Watershed Projects is provided through the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Relief allocation and is available only to the 85 counties (or cities within those counties) declared federal disaster areas during the 2008 flood.

Visit the Iowa Watersheds Project page for additional information and to view a map of the selected watersheds.