$1.5M Grants to Benefit Residents of Three Iowa Watersheds

The Iowa Flood Center has announced that the Soap and Chequest Creek, Turkey River, and Upper Cedar River watersheds will each receive a $1.5 million grant for construction of watershed improvement projects to support flood mitigation, such as farm ponds, wetlands, and floodplain easements in a targeted area of the watershed. The grant, provided with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is part of the Iowa Watersheds Project, an effort of the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa.

Phase II IWP watersheds

Watershed improvement projects will be constructed in the Soap and Chequest Creek, Upper Cedar, and Turkey River watersheds.

In the coming months, local watershed boards, with the help of the Iowa Flood Center (IFC), will identify a subwatershed in which to target the grant funding, with initial project construction expected to begin in 2014. Professor Larry Weber, an IFC researcher and director of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, says his hope is that the Iowa Watersheds Projects will improve our understanding of what works best in each watershed, and which strategies can be scaled up for implementation throughout the state.

IFC teams are currently conducting hydrologic assessments of the watersheds to help researchers understand how water moves in the basin, and where constructed projects will have the greatest impact on reducing downstream flood damages.

IFC researchers have been working with local partners in each watershed to learn about the basins and their residents, to share information, and to build a consensus about future projects. Weber says that building strong working relationships is crucial to the project. “Landowner participation and watershed engagement are the most important elements,” Weber says.

Since its establishment in 2009, the Iowa Flood Center has significantly improved the state’s level of flood preparedness.  Based at IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa, the IFC provides accurate, state-of-the-science-based information to help decision-makers, individuals, and communities better understand their flood risks.  The IFC’s primary objective is to improve flood monitoring and prediction capabilities in Iowa, while also developing strategies to help mitigate and prevent flood damage in the future.

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.

Upper Cedar River Watershed Tour

The Floyd County Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting a tour of the Upper Cedar River Watershed to look at urban and agricultural soil and water conservation practices that are making a difference in controlling flooding, pollution and soil erosion in the basin.  Nathan Young, Associate Director of the Iowa Flood Center, is among the scheduled presenters.