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Upper Iowa River flood reduction project is about to swing into operation

Posted: Mon, Jan 9, 2017 1:35 PM

Do you remember this?  We thought you probably did.  Last August 24th, after parts of Winneshiek County received over seven inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period, the Upper Iowa River Watershed experienced tremendous flooding.  Roads were inundated, schools were cancelled, and some trapped victims had to be rescued by emergency personnel.

Since then, the Upper Iowa River Watershed Management Authority has started working on a project to prevent future floods, reduce the damages or make the area better able to show "resiliency" in springing back from flooding.

Several important steps will be taken soon toward that goal.  The UIRWMA board will meet at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Decorah City Hall Council Chambers to explore the concept of flood resilience and how local citizens can participate in the process of defining that term.

The Upper Iowa River Watershed is one of eight rural watersheds participating in a $96.9 million grant received by the state of Iowa from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the Iowa Watershed Approach.  That program is aimed at addressing issues associated with the floods Iowa communities experience year after year.

Meanwhile,  the Winneshiek County Board on Monday approved a $757,597 contract with the Iowa Flood Center, which is located at the University of Iowa.  The Flood Center's work will be a key factor in coming up with a plan that prioritizes flood prevention projects.  The Upper Iowa River Watershed has received roughly $4 million of the HUD grant to pay for projects in the area.

Work to determine which projects to pursue will officially begin on February 1st, although some preliminary work has already been done.  The project will include the hiring of an Upper Iowa River Watershed coordinator.