Flood monitoring in Iowa–how we can improve

calm body of water
Iowa has a sophisticated flood system, but we could still make improvements | Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | 4/23/2019

As we enter prime flooding season, people are turning to the Iowa Flood Information system for date and information about flooding in their area. Set up by the Iowa Flood Center, an organization established in 2009, this online tool marks just one of the many advanced methods used by the IFC to gather data on water levels, rainfall, and overall changes in flood patterns.

But tools and data can only help so much. Flooding is a natural phenomenon that can cause significant damage to buildings and infrastructure, and high levels of water disrupt normal city functions for weeks on end. The fast currents can swiftly sweep people off their feet and pull them underwater, and most floodwater is swimming with bacteria.

Iowa has attempted to monitor and regulate its floods through the Iowa Watershed Approach. Watersheds are natural basins near bodies of water that allow the water to drain. Supporters of the Watershed project have also suggested clearing room for flood plains–areas of land around rivers that water can naturally overflow into, since water levels naturally rise and fall season to season. Our penchant for building right on the river is potentially setting us up for disaster.

Whether it’s through the IFC or through the Watershed Project, we have the tools to continue keeping ourselves informed about flooding. Iowa has some of the most advanced flood technology in the nation, and though we cannot truly beat Mother Nature, we can try to stay one step ahead.


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