Iowa City Press-Citizen: Loebsack Promotes More Flood Research

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, visited Monday with officials from the Iowa Flood Center at the Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory on the University of Iowa campus and promoted his efforts to create a national counterpart, preferably at UI.

Loebsack introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives in June that would establish a National Flood Research and Education Consortium.

"For me, what this bill is about, really, is trying to bring together as many folks in the research community and the government community and doing all we can to coordinate our efforts," Loebsack said in an interview with the Press-Citizen on Monday.

He said it is important to move forward with such initiatives even as discussions about where to cut billions of dollars from the federal budget continue.

"I think that, first of all, we have to recognize the long-term debt problem that we have and the short-term deficit problem; there's no question about it," he said. "But we make decisions based on priorities, and flooding is going to continue.

"If all we think of is short term, we're never going to take a comprehensive look at flooding and how we can prevent it, how we can predict it and how we can avoid longer term, much greater costs."

The Iowa Flood Center, which was established at UI two years ago in response to the flood of 2008, studies and monitors flooding within the state and helps to predict future flood events.

It is one of only a handful of such organizations at academic institutions in the U.S., and despite many researchers and agencies studying flooding throughout the country, there is no central agency where they can all work together, Loebsack said.

"I think the University of Iowa would be the best place for this given what's already gone on here and what we have" he said.

There is not a timeline for when the bill would be discussed in the House of Representatives, but Loebsack said he has gotten positive support so far from elected officials around the country and on both sides of the aisle.

"We've got a good number of folks on board with this thing, and it has bipartisan support," he said. "We're trying to get the word out as much as we possibly can."