The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 6, 2013

Iowa board awards millions for flood protection

The Clinton Herald

---- — DUBUQUE (AP) — Dubuque has been awarded $98.5 million in state tax incentives for flood-prevention initiatives that will make it the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history.

The Iowa Flood Mitigation Board announced the money Wednesday in Des Moines, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported. Other cities including Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Coralville will also receive funding for their own flood-prevention projects.

Dubuque will receive the money for the Bee Branch Creek Watershed Project. The 20-year, $200 million flood-prevention project will be divided into 12 phases, some of which are already in progress.

“It’s a great day for the citizens of Dubuque, and particularly those that are affected in the almost semi-annual flooding that occurs in that Bee Branch watershed,” said Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol.

Some of the work includes enhancing sewer capacity, replacing a flood-mitigation gate, and reconstructing 240 alleyways with material that allows water to filter back into the ground.

Officials say the project will prevent more than $580 million in future flood damages in an area that’s received multiple presidential disaster declarations since 1999.

“It’s really gratifying to be able to move these projects forward,” said city civil engineer Deron Muehring. “It’s one thing to be able to come up with projects to help fix a problem. It’s another to find the funding and the means to actually move forward with them.”

Officials also say the funding should delay plans to increase residents’ utility bills to help pay for the project.

Cedar Rapids, which was hit hard by flooding in 2008, was awarded $264 million total over 20 years. Officials say $8.5 million will be going to Iowa City and nearly $9.8 million to Coralville.

The Iowa Legislature created the mitigation board to let cities use a portion of state sales tax revenue growth for flood-prevention projects. Up to $600 million is available through the program, which will be doled out over several years.