The frequency of severe flooding events in Iowa is increasing. Data from Iowa State University shows that 100-year flood plain maps really map 25-year flood plains, and in cities like Cedar Rapids, large rainfall events have increased by 56 percent.
Kamyar Enshayan, director of the University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education, says that’s in part due to land use.
“Over the last 100 years, we have significantly altered the hydrology of our state. The part that we can do something about that would have fairly immediate results is land use change, meaning changing the way our cropping system works, and rehabbing some of the elements we’ve lost like wetlands and forests,” he says.
During this hour of River to River, Enshayan talks with host Ben Kieffer. We also hear about a watershed management group in the Turkey River Watershed that has built detention ponds to help decrease how much water makes it downstream with Ross Evelsizer from Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development. Kieffer also talks about priorities for funding water quality and watershed management projects with Democratic State Senator Rob Hogg and Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett.
Enshayan says it's estimated that the cost of funding watershed management projects in the state is around $5 billion, which he says is really a bargain when you put it in context.
“To do the kind of work we need upstream, it’s estimated [it] would cost the state $5 billion. The flood of 1993 cost several billion dollars in damage. The flood of 2008 did many, many billion dollars in damage,” he says.