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Otter Creek chosen for Iowa Flood Center Project

By Jean Caspers-Simmet
simmet@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 05/13/2013 2:34 PM

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POSTVILLE —The Turkey River Watershed Management Authority is working on afive-year pilot demonstration project with IIHR – Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa and the Iowa Flood Center.

The project's goal is to create state-of-the-art hydrological modeling of the water flowing through the Turkey River Watershed, said Lora Friest, executive director of Northeast Iowa RC&D in Postville.

The Iowa Flood Center has put its own stream stage sensorsat 11 locations in the watershed and at other locations.Data collected will be fed into its real-timeIowa Flood Information System.

The TRWMA board accepted a recommendation from its executive committee and voted March 28 unanimously to recommend the Iowa Flood Center select Otter Creek in Fayette County for modeling. Based on that action, the Iowa Flood Center will invest $1.5 million in voluntary water conservation practices in Otter Creek, a sub-watershed of the Turkey River Watershed. The flood prevention model will be tested for accuracy. Earlier this year, the Iowa Flood Center selected the Turkey River Watershed as one of three watersheds in Iowa where it will test its modeling.

"As Larry Weber with the Iowa Flood Center explains, the goal is to slow the water down and take the peak off the hydrograph so that the impact of heavy rainfall is not so severe," Friest said.

Cover crops, ponds, retention basins, wetlands and tile water management are all practices that may be considered.

"We're hoping that landowners will be open to managing water and there will be real benefits to them as well in terms of holding nutrients and groundwater recharge," she said. "We want to slow the water in the upper part of the watershed so it walks off the land instead of running off. We want input on what will work for them."

Rain gardens, rain barrels and permeable paving like that used in West Union's Green Streetscape can slow storm-water runoff.

Turkey River is part of a NASA/Iowa Flood Center project to collect precipitation data that will help scientists understand how satellite radar images relate to actual rainfall so they can more accurately predict rainfall amounts and flood events.

"We have watched homes, valuable farmland, roads, bridges and even entire communities wash downstream in the Turkey River Watershed," Friest said. "We can work together as a watershed team to address flooding before more devastation occurs rather than react to flooding after it causes millions of dollars in damage."

For more information, call Turkey River Watershed coordinator Brad Crawford or Friest at (563) 864-7112 or visit www.turkeyriver.org. More information about the RC&D can be found at www.northeastiowarcd.org.