A hydroscience professor at the University of Iowa is praising the work of the Iowa Flood Center, as state lawmakers consider eliminating all state funding for it.
The center was established to conduct research following the historic floods of 2008.
Professor Larry Weber heads the UI’s Hydroscience and Engineering department, which oversees the work of the center.
He says the center provided critical information for communities affected by last year’s flooding in eastern Iowa.
“The traffic to the Iowa Flood Center was so intense during the runup of the crest coming to Cedar Rapids,” Weber said. “So many people using that data, wanting to know what the extent of the inundation would be, what the water depth on their property would be if they were in the inundated area.”
The proposed cut is part of a Republican-sponsored education budget bill that reduces funding to the Regents institutions and their programs.
The bill eliminates the center’s entire $1.5 million state appropriation.
The center draws down federal funds that backers say pays for flood mapping in communities across the state.
“There is $40 million for rural watershed projects to hold water back where it falls on the land, process sediments out of that water, process nutrients, reduce flooding downstream and improve water quality,” Weber said.
Education Budget Subcommittee co-chair Rep. Cecil Dolocheck (R-Mount Ayr) said lawmakers never anticipated that funding for the center would be long-term.
"We as Iowans need to be responsible for our taxpayer dollars,” Dolocheck said. “What do we need from that flood center at this point in time to help Iowans?"
Governor Branstad has praised the work of the center in the past.
His spokesman Ben Hammes declined to comment on the proposed cut.
“This is all part of the process,” Hammes said.