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Fighting Flood Water Upstream

JOHNSON COUNTY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- For days all eyes have been on the flooding in Iowa City and at the Coralville Reservoir. The water that is let through the dam in Coralville makes its way downstream to Iowa City, where it creates some flood damage. Because of those measures upstream, Iowa City suffers damage and not disaster.

It’s really a simple idea: control or hold flood water upstream and you can limit or avoid damage downstream in urban areas.

“We’re probably looking at ’08 conditions,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coralville Lake Operations Manager Dee Goldman. “That’s a testament to the reservoir.”

If it works above Iowa City, why not install similar measures above Cedar Rapids? It’s been talked about for years.

“There are a lot of folks working on a watershed management approach to flood mitigation and we have to keep moving,” said Representative David Loebsack.

“You would have to study them. Say ‘If you put this together, it’ll achieve what we want for Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Vinton, wherever,” said Iowa State Geologist Bob Libra.

Even after the floods of 2008, no actual study has been done.

“It’s very hard when you don’t have the funds to necessarily take care of your infrastructure to fund a study,” said Goldman.

Without that study, there are a lot of unknowns.

“It lets you know, for one thing, is there any point in talking about this,” said Libra. “Or would it really be prohibitively expensive?”

Until then, we’ll continue seeing water spilled from the dams we do have and emergency barricades in the streets trying to channel flood waters.

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