Iowa City recycling center to be completely green


This summer Iowa City will open the East Side Recycling Center, a $3.8 million complex, funded by landfill revenue. The center and its surrounding area will be a model for sustainability, but not just because of its role in reprocessing the city’s waste.

The Press-Citizen reports:

First, the multi-building complex will serve as a one-stop recycling hub, including drop-off bins for oil and electronics, pick-up stations for wood chips and compost and salvage shops for building materials and furniture.

It also will feature an environmental education center — a public meeting facility where city staff and local groups can hold programs and classes focusing on sustainability.

The complex also is being built to be itself as sustainable as possible, incorporating geothermal heating and cooling, a wind turbine to generate power and biocells to treat the storm-water runoff.

And there will be plenty of greenery on the site, with rain gardens, bioswales, vegetation atop the education center’s roof and an outdoor education area.

Coralville sewer break sends more waste into Iowa waters


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Muddy Creek just might get muddier.

A broken sewer line in Coralville has caused an ongoing leak of  of untreated wastewater into the creek, reports the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

[Update – January 1, 2011 1:39 PM– The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that workers in Coralville have temporarily fixed the leak, and wastewater is no longer flowing into Muddy Creek.]

This break, discovered on Thursday, made Coralville the third town in just nine days to send thousands of gallons of wastewater into Iowa’s rivers and streams.  Continue reading

Iowa City approves levee plan


Danforth Chapel on the grounds of the University of Iowa is surrounded by floodwaters from the Iowa River June 16, 2008. Photo by Greg Henshall / FEMA (Wikimedia Commons)

Iowa City will accept $15.7 million in state money to build three levees that aim to protect the area from future flooding.

But some fear the levees may raise water levels downstream, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reports.

The council voted unanimously to accept $15.7 million in state-administered federal funding for all three levees, although several council members expressed regret that it would affect nine remaining residents on the river side of Taft Speedway.

By accepting the Community Development Block Grant funding, the city is committing to building permanent earthen levees at three sites:

• An $11.7 million levee along Taft Speedway and No Name Road in northern Iowa City that would protect the 92 condominiums in the Idyllwild neighborhood, which represent a tax base of $20 million to $22 million.

• A $4 million levee along the east side of the river from Highway 6 to the Crandic Railroad, protecting the Gilbert Street commercial area south of Highway 6 and the Gilbert Street arterial from future flooding.

• Across the river, a $4.2 million west-side levee from McCollister Boulevard to the Crandic Railroad to protect the 190 homes in the Baculis and Thatcher mobile-home parks, as well as the Commercial Court area.

Council member Mike Wright called the Taft and No Name levee “the better of two less-than-optimal choices.”

Flood Center model predicts response to mitigation


The Iowa River - photo by Jim Malewitz

As Iowa City considers three multimillion dollar flood mitigation projects, the Iowa Flood Center is predicting their outcomes. The results would be a mixed bag for Iowans living along the Iowa River, the model predicted.

From the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

Iowa City’s public works director said Monday that initial forecasts from a flood-modeling program show proposed mitigation projects will result in lower water levels along Taft Speedway and other points upriver of the Park Road Bridge in the event of future flooding.

For a proposed levee on the east side of the river from Highway 6 to the Crandic Railroad bridge, flood levels just north of there would rise by three-quarters of an inch in a 100-year flood and 2¾ inches in a 500-year flood, Fosse said….

Meanwhile, downriver, the effects of the mitigation projects would raise water levels at points north of two new levees during future floods, the model shows.

And for a proposed levee on the west side of the river from McCollister Boulevard to the Crandic Railroad, Fosse said levels just north of there would rise by similar heights.

View the Flood Center’s many maps.

Iowa City approves 500 year flood plain rule


The Iowa River. - Photo by Jim Malewitz

Thanks to a measure just passed in the city council, Iowa City residents may see a future of drier homes and lower flood insurance premiums.

In a unanimous vote, the council voted to require that new buildings would be constructed at least one foot above the 500 year flooding levels. And important facilities like public safety buildings, water treatment plants and hospitals are now required to be built outside of flood levels.

In the past, the rule was set in respect to the 100-year flood plain, which did little to protect Iowa Citians’ property from the surging waters of the 2008 floods.

The new flood plain was based largely upon an Cedar Falls ordinance viewed by many as a success.

More from the Iowa City Press Citizen.

$10 Million goes to flood prevention


Monday was a fine day for enemies of sogginess.

From the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

Since floods ravaged Iowa in 2008, more than half a billion dollars has been spent to prevent that kind of widespread destruction from happening again.

However, Rebuild Iowa Executive Director Lt. Gen. Ron Dardis said the state still has a long way to go before it can be safe from future flooding.

“We are still clearly in the first phase of the recovery,” Dardis said.

On Monday, Dardis, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Water Policy director Bill Ehm, State Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, and University of Iowa IIHR director Larry Weber announced a series of initiatives that will move Iowans closer to protecting themselves the next time flooding strikes the state.

About $10 million in Community Development Block Grant funds will go toward three projects designed to better understand Iowa’s watersheds and floodplains, promote collaboration between government entities within watersheds and educate the public about watersheds and flood mitigation efforts.

The $10 million is a portion of the $84.1 million awarded to Iowa from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Disaster Recovery Enhancement Fund. A total of $312 million went to 13 states, with Iowa getting the largest cut.

“The impact of these activities is sure to improve Iowa’s future,” Weber said….

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