The Iowa Flood Center was instrumental in bringing a new $96.9M grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to Iowa for a statewide watershed improvement program, the Iowa Watersheds Approach (IWA). The IWA will address issues associated with the devastating and dangerous floods Iowa communities experience year after year. Iowans have already tried, tested, and approved the concepts of the IWA. The Iowa Watersheds Project (IWP) is entering its final year, and landowners and community members are noticing the benefits.
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.
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.