Rural-Urban coalitions key to flood preparation

Nathan Young, an Iowa Flood Center researcher, shows off some off some recently-developed mapping technology. - Photo by Joe Bolkcom

On Tuesday, a group of flood researchers and policy makers stopped in Elkader for the first of four  seminars that will examine Iowa’s recent history of flooding, and what communities can do to better prepare for floods.

James Q. Lynch, reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette picked up on one key theme of the meeting: Rural-Urban Coalition building:

Flood prevention starts at the upper end of watersheds, but rural-urban coalitions will be needed to develop policies to reduce flood potential and damage, participants in a flood seminar agreed Sept. 7.

“This is not a case of ‘urban rules,'” Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, told about 40 people who attended a state-sponsored seminar on flood preparation in Elkader. “We all have to be in this together.”

A handful of northeast Iowa farmers agreed that practices on their land affect their downstream neighbors, so they should be a part of the solution.

In fact, said Richard Jensen of rural Elgin, that rural-urban partnership exists in the form of taxpayer-supported programs that help defray the cost of water conservation practices on his farmland.

“I’m just an old man with an audience here,” Jensen said, “but the real solution is to treat the cause – the upper end of the watershed.”

Right now, there are over 204 watershed projects completed or underway, according to Wayne Petersen, of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

For more information on the flood preparation, and to view the speakers’ presentations, check out CGRER’s post-event resource page.

On September 14, researchers will head west to Cherokee for a 4:00p.m. presentation. Late last June, Cherokee residents and business owners were forced to evacuate as heavy rains caused the Little Sioux River to spill over its banks.

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