Flooding bring disease filled mosquitoes to Western Iowa


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Mosquitoes that can bring disease.  (pexels).

Ayotoluwafunmi Ogunwusi | May 9th, 2019

Western Iowa has been suffering from flooding since march and some unwanted guests have flown in. Mosquitoes are very common insects the fly around during the summer period and according to new research from Iowa State University, western Iowa has the largest presence of mosquitoes carrying the west Nile virus.

The West Nile Virus can be transmitted by the Culex tarsalis, a type of mosquito. These mosquitoes usually gather and breed in pools of water and the flooding may have helped them gather is large amounts.

Iowa state professor and entomologist Ryan Smith believes that the virus is concerning as it is the leading cause of mosquito-born diseases in the United States.

The virus could affect one in five people bitten by the mosquito, and could lead people to develop fevers or potentially fatal diseases. The number of human cases in Iowa fluctuate every year, and scientists are still trying to find out the factors that influence yearly transmission rates.

There are many ways to prevent the disease, such as, by spraying insect repellent or wearing long sleeve shirts. This is the time of the year when the mosquitoes rise in number, early summer to early fall. The importance of our health and safety is number one.

 

 

Disastrous forecast realized in Davenport flood


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Davenport flooding in 2011 (flickr).

Julia Poska|May 2, 2019

The Quad Cities have been preparing since the National Weather Service reported earlier this year a 95 percent chance of pronounced flooding in the area through May. As of Tuesday, their temporary barriers had been in place for 48 days. This week, their preparations proved insufficient.

Tuesday afternoon, Mississippi River floodwaters suddenly rushed into Davenport when HESCO Barriers — military grade defense boxes used to make temporary walls — succumbed to the force of the water. Officials saw early signs, the Quad City Times and Dispatch-Argus reported, and began urging people in some areas to evacuate when the temporary levees began breaking around 3:30 pm. The HESCO barriers had never been tested in waters above 21.5 feet, but as of 4:30 pm the Mississippi was at 21.87 feet, heading quickly to the expected 22.4 foot crest.

Not everyone received or took seriously the evacuation warnings, and many had to be rescued by boat after the fact. Once the water came rushing in, there was little time to take action. No serious injuries were reported.

The Weather Channel reported that floodwater began to recede Wednesday morning, and that at their peak levels surpassed 6 feet in some areas. A new expected crest of 22.7 feet is expected later today, which could surpass the 22.6 foot record set in 1993.

Scott County officials and Gov. Kim Reynolds are hoping President Trump’s earlier disaster declaration for western Iowa will extend into the Quad Cities area, local media reported.

 

 

On The Radio- Preparing for flood season


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Photo from the 2008 June floods (christina rutz/flickr)

Kasey Dresser| April 29, 2019

This weeks segment looks at how towns along the Mississippi are preparing for flood season. 

Transcript: 

As flood season begins, mayors of towns along the Mississippi prepare for potential disaster. 

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus. 

It’s not easy maintaining a city or town along the Mississippi. The river—one of the largest in the world—is especially susceptible to floods during spring, when rain and melting snow cause the water levels to rise significantly.

The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative is a collection of 88 mayors spanning 10 states that work together to find solutions for flooding. They’ve been setting safety measures in place for this coming flood season, one that’s predicted to be especially disastrous.  

In late March, the group talked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to figure out some preventative measures. Previously, they gathered in Washington DC to work out a nearly eight billion dollar deal to help reinforce existing infrastructure. Midwestern states have sustained billions in flood damages just this year, and supposedly once-in-a-lifetime floods have hit St. Louis on three different occasions since 2011.

These previously rare weather events have been happening more and more frequently, and the coalition is amping up their defenses to beat back the oncoming waves. 

For more information, visit Iowa Environmental Focus dot org. 

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E Mason. 

Flood Center co-founder Larry Weber serves on Flood Recovery Advisory Board


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Larry Weber, a notable flood expert from the University of Iowa (photo from IIHR Hydroscience & Engineering).

Julia Poska| April 26, 2019

The Flood Recovery Advisory Board, formed by Governor Reynolds to coordinate statewide recovery and rebuilding following this year’s devastating floods, will gain  expertise from Larry Weber, a co-founder of the Iowa Flood Center.

Dr. Weber can offer valuable experience and insights in several areas related to flooding. He is a former director of IIHR Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa, conducting research in areas including river hydraulics, hydropower, ice mechanics, water quality and watershed processes.

Weber also conducts research for the UI Public Policy Center and worked with the state legislature in 2013 to implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. He and his wife have won several awards for conservation work on their own property.

Recently, he wrote an op-ed about his vision as leader of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $96 million Iowa Watershed Approach. This program addresses factors that contribute to Iowa’s increasing flood risk in nine distinct watersheds, with the ultimate goals of reducing risk, improving water quality and increasing resilience.

In the piece, Weber said he aims to restore natural resiliency through conservation measures like farm ponds, wetlands and terraces. Floodplain restoration is another important piece of his plan.

“We need to allow our rivers room to flood,” he said. “The floodplain is an integral, natural part of the river. They also keep people safe and remove us from the heartbreaking cycle that so many Iowans know all too well: Lose everything to a flood.”

His expertise in all-things-flooding, from hydraulics to conservation to policy, will surely prove valuable as Iowa begins to move forward from this year’s floods and better prepare for  flooding to come.

 

 

 

Flood monitoring in Iowa–how we can improve


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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.

 

Floodwater and contamination


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Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com | The Mississippi is an especially large source of possible floodwater contamination

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | April 10th, 2019

Most floodwater is unsanitary at best and infested with dangerous bacteria at worst, experts find, and recent storms in Davenport have brought to light the issues with rising water levels and contamination.

River water is a typical site for sewage and stormwater runoff. It’s also a source of energy, transport, and water for commercial and residential use; the Mississippi alone provides drinking water for some 18 million people.

But flooding disrupts the water purification process and pushes much of the contaminated water out, especially when storm drains become compromised. Spring typically brings heavy rain and an increase in water levels, but concentrated snowfall and changing weather patterns have caused the Mississippi to spill over in several cities. In Davenport, citizens know not to wander in the water: floodwater around the Modern Woodman park baseball stadium tested positive for E. Coli.

Most bacteria found in floodwater causes gastrointestinal issues, and staying safe from these contaminants is one of the recommended ways to deal with flooding, according to OSHA. Infection and sickness are just some of the risks following any natural disaster that causes floods, and staying out of the water is the best way to stay safe.

On The Radio- BP Oil


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Photo taken on April 3rd 2013 in Mauritania near Tiguent Parc-National-Diawling (jbdodane/flickr)

Kasey Dresser| April 8, 2019

This weeks segment looks at BP’s place in the coming decades with rising demands for renewable energy.

Transcript:

BP Oil and Gas has made energy demand predictions about the future—but are they accurate?

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

After the massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast in 2010, BP became known globally in a decidedly negative light.

Almost a decade later, and with settlement payments still being paid out, the energy company has thrown its weight behind renewable energy. BP outlines in its annual energy outlook that the planet could run on mostly renewable sources by 2040.

There is a small detail that some environmentalists find troubling, however; the BP report also lists an estimated rising global demand for energy well into the 2040s, while other scientific reports estimate that global demand will taper off and even out by the 2030s.

A rising global demand for energy is a given, as underdeveloped countries begin working on their infrastructure and making improvements for their citizens. But overestimating how much energy will be needed globally in the future could allow oil companies to continue selling more fossil fuels, even as renewable energy use grows.

For more information, visit Iowa environmental focus dot org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.