City officials of Clive, IA have approved a buyout for home and business owners affected by the June floods. The buyout will focus on properties affected in Walnut Creek and North Walnut Creek.
“We have dangerous flash floods on Walnut Creek and North Walnut Creek, and the frequency and intensity of that flooding is increasing,” said Clive City Manager Matt McQuillen. “The properties we’re targeting have been flooded multiple times in the past decade. In this case, the most effective way to protect lives and property from future loss is to remove the buildings and improve the natural floodplain function.”
City taxes will not be increased to purchase the properties. City council members will continue to discuss flood mitigation and preparedness strategies for the future.
Applications from property owners in the acquisition area must be submitted by November 5, 2018. Additional information about property criteria can be found here or at the City of Clive website.
Farmers nationwide are waiting anxiously for the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, a crucial piece of legislation that authorizes U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and funding for research in agriculture and food.
The current bill expires Sept. 30. If congress can not settle on a new bill by then, funding for those conservation, nutrition, and rural development programs, among others, could be lost for a time.
A conference committee of both House of Representatives and Senate representatives are currently working out the differences between the draft bills proposed by each chamber in June. The Senate draft is widely regarded as friendlier to conservation.
One of the House’s most controversial proposals is to cut the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which provides contractual support for people who actively mange agricultural land or forest for conservation on their property.
Critics say this move would eliminate the advanced conservation practices the CSP promotes, and totally cuts funding for working lands. They believe the CSP is necessary because it allows for long-term conservation efforts, whereas EQIP deals with one-time practice establishments.
Conservation practices like cover cropping and on-farm forestry ease the stress agriculture can put on our natural resources, but they can be expensive for farmers. USDA programs provide critical resources to ensure eco-friendly farms can still turn profit.
In an effort to call Iowa to action, Kamyar Enshayan, director of the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education, called on his expertise as an environmentalist and agricultural engineer for a Des Moines Register OpEd earlier this week.
Enshayan warned Iowans that flooding will only get worse as the climate changes and gave those upstream three pieces of advice to protect their downstream statesmen.
First, he said we should hand floodplains back to nature. He called for an end to construction and development along riverbanks, arguing that the ecosystem services floodplains provide are more valuable than riverside property.
Natural floodplains improve water quality, provide great wildlife habitat, offer natural flood protection and reduce flood disaster and recovery costs according to the Nature Conservancy.
Second, we need to make Iowa more “spongy” with sustainable cropping and biodiversity solutions. Enshayan suggested increasing crop diversity in longer rotations to promote healthy soil. Deep-rooted native prairie plants and natural wetland ecosystems will also help contain water.
Finally, he said we must get to the root of the problem and reduce carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. He pointed to methane-emitting landfills and Iowa’s continued dependence on coal as areas for potential improvement.
Enshayan addressed policy makers at the end of the piece, saying they should listen to scientists and engineers like himself to proactively protect people and resources.
“Sand bagging is not enough, not a lasting solution, and does not address upstream problems,” he said. “Let’s work on lasting solutions.”
In years past by September, Iowa no longer expects rain. However that is obviously not the case with heavy rainfall the past 10 days and more expected in the forecast. Professor Gabriele Villarini, a faculty affiliate of the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa, paired with Assistant Research Scientist Wei Zhang to develop the images above for context around the rain we are currently experiencing.
The top left panel shows that from 1981 to 2010 Iowa could expect at most 2 inches of rain in August and September. The bottom left panel shows that we are currently expecting 8-10 inches.
The top right panel shows that in this time period, Iowa is experiencing the most rainfall since 1948. The bottom right panel shows that in some areas there is more than 80% rain now than the second largest rainfall.
This weeks segment talks about how Iowa is the country leader in soil conservation mapping.
Iowa is now one of the country’s leaders in soil conservation mapping.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
Iowa officials have recently completed a map of the conservation efforts in the state. This map identifies the six different methods of soil conservation used in Iowa—including terraces, ponds, grassed waterways, sediment control basins, and more. The map shows where practices are deployed and how they are funded.
The map also acts as a visual for determining how different areas of Iowa are being funded for their conservation efforts, and whether that funding is public or private.
Iowa is the first state to conduct such a thorough analysis of its conservation practices statewide. The project took three years and was a joint effort between Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Researchers used something called LiDAR—laser imaging software—and years of aerial photographs to compile the conservation map.
Iowa State University is currently performing additional research to build a newer map, one that also shows the reduction of sediment and phosphorous buildup in Iowa’s waterways.
For more information, visit Iowa Environmental Focus dot org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E Mason.
Mayor Brad Hart held a press conference yesterday stating that preparations were in place. City workers are preparing for 18 feet to be safe. Hart stated, “I’m confident that no matter how high the river gets this week, that we’ll rise above it and protect the community as best we possibly can.”
Right now there is expected to be no damage. City Public Works Director Jen Winter’s biggest concern is “water coming back into our storm sewer system and backing up.” “Unless something fails, we anticipate that no, that there would not be damage,” she said. “In some cases, depending on the age of a building, some people do get water in their basements despite the fact that we have kind of plugged off the river from backing up.”
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently revised a problematic stormwater discharge permit in response to legal pressure from the Iowa Environmental Council.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued the permit, allowing the Des Moines Airport to discharge stormwater into Des Moines’ Yeader Creek, in May 2017. The IDNR has reported “impaired” water quality in the creek since 1998, due to low dissolved oxygen and runoff from the airport containing poisonous de-icing agents.
The IEC feared the permitted stormwater discharge would further degrade the stream in violation of state and federal laws and make it and Easter Lake, into which the stream drains, more unsuitable for aquatic life and recreation.
A news release on the IEC website quoted Executive Director Jennifer Terry, who said the IDNR did not take public comments of concern submitted by the council seriously. On April 30, 2018 the council filed a Petition for Judicial Review in District Court in an effort to be heard.
The subsequently revised permit, re-issued August 1, mollified the council, who then filed to dismiss its petition