Iowa Flood Center Advances Toward Goal of Improving Flood Monitoring, Prediction

Friday, March 12, 2010

University of Iowa News Release

 
krajewskiLess than a year old, the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) at the University of Iowa is making good progress toward its goal of improved flood monitoring and prediction capabilities in Iowa.

In a recent report to Iowa legislators, IFC director Witold Krajewski (right) said the center has:

  • Helped Iowa towns at risk for flooding better understand how distant rainfall affects them by identifying the boundaries of upstream river basins.
  • Laid the groundwork for a new, $3,000 stream-level sensor -- developed by UI engineering students -- that could be attached to the underside of each of Iowa's 25,000 bridges to provide an online database for monitoring rivers.
  • Supplemented 100-year and 500-year flood maps in some Iowa communities with new flood inundation maps that show which areas may be at risk during any predicted flood.
  • Supported 20 students in their studies so that Iowa will have a well-trained next generation of professionals to monitor and predict floods.

The report noted that the center isn't trying to go it alone. Composed of researchers from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, the center is working with all branches of government and a variety of agencies, said Krajewski (pronounced cray-EFF-ski), who also serves as professor of civil and environmental engineering in the UI College of Engineering and research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering.

"We are working closely with our agency partners, including the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Transportation, the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to better understand how we can help them serve Iowans and to improve the transfer of the latest technologies and research tools to them from academia," he said.

"This is truly a first in our field. We are also working closely with several communities across the state, including Cedar Falls, Charles City, Elkader, Iowa City/Coralville, Des Moines and others."

Looking ahead, Krajewski said that during the next year the center plans to discuss with local communities the financial and logistical details of installing and maintaining the stream-level and soil moisture and temperature sensors.

Also, the IFC will begin using its modeling capabilities to evaluate different flood mitigation strategies. For example, he said the IFC might develop a model to test a distributed water storage concept proposed by one local group. The idea is to allow a controlled release of floodwaters from different tributaries in a river basin by staggering their discharge into larger rivers.

Located on the UI campus in the C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory, the Iowa Flood Center is funded by a one-year, $1.3 million grant provided by the Iowa Legislature in April 2009. Renewed funding is requested for next year.  For additional information, see the IFC Web site at: http://www.iowafloodcenter.org.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Witold Krajewski, Iowa Flood Center, 319-335-5231, witold-krajewski@uiowa.edu; Gary Galluzzo, UI News Services, 319-384-0009, , gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu