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Flood Planning Never Looked So Green

After a historic flood put 5,000 homes, 900 businesses, and 300 public buildings under water, it was clear Cedar Rapids needed a new flood plan. To prepare for the next time the waters rise, the city held neighborhood meetings to develop a Flood Control System Master Plan identifying projects on both sides of the Cedar River to protect the city during heavy rain events but also not obscure the river view when a flood isn’t imminent. The result: an ambitious 7.5 mile flood protection system consisting of 20% removable walls to maintain the views (a typical system contains around 5% removable walls), and levees built with ample greenway space and recreational ballfields, all designed with the help of the Iowa State Historical Preservation Office. Starting with projects in the lowest areas, including New Bohemia, Sinclair, and Czech Village, Cedar Rapids is approaching the long-term improvements as funding is available from state, local, and federal sources, including state funding through Iowa’s innovative new Flood Mitigation Program, which allows for growth in sales taxes to be returned to a jurisdiction over a 20-year period, providing about $15 million each year. This system could be finished earlier and at a lower cost if Congress funds the project list included in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRDA) of 2014, under which funding for this project, and many like it, languishes. While Cedar Rapids continues the long recovery from historic floods, these innovative projects are a bright beginning, ensuring the city will be ready for the next storm.

Gamechanger added in 2016.

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