The Republican legislative budget proposal for next year eliminates the $1.5 million that supports the Iowa Flood Center, according to Larry Weber, director, IIHR Hydroscience and Engineering at the University of Iowa.
“This would effectively eliminate the Iowa Flood Center. The cuts are contained in the Education Appropriations Bill that is moving through the legislature today and tomorrow,” an email sent Tuesday morning by Weber, along with Witold Krajewski, director, Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa, said.
Decorah City Manager Chad Bird said the cuts would hurt Decorah and Winneshiek County.
“This is an important tool for many of Iowa’s cities and counties,” Bird said.
“Loss of the expertise, monitoring and forecasting would be detrimental to our region’s flood relief efforts. Specifically for Winneshiek County, the city of Decorah and the Upper Iowa Watershed Management Authority, there are many water quality, flood mitigation and even water supply initiatives in the works that are dependent on information and staff support from the Iowa Flood Center.
“A key project for Decorah and Winneshiek County is the much anticipated flood insurance rate map (FIRM) mapping update project. Some of the data used during our mapping will come from FEMA and local staff would seek technical review and expertise from the Flood Center. The stream and river gauges used throughout the county are a vital link in our disaster monitoring and response with many local action steps initiated because of data on the gauges,” he said.
Concerned citizens are urged to contact their local legislators: Republican Representative Michael Bergan of Decorah, or Republican Senator Michael Breitbach

Flood support
The proposed cut would have a devastating impact on the Flood Center's ability to continue to provide flood mitigation and real-time flood support to communities, businesses, emergency managers, public works professionals and citizens that have come to depend on the Center's efforts, Weber and Krajewski said.
“These cuts will result in the end of the Iowa Flood Information System, a powerful on-line tool which supports flood alerts and flood forecasts, more than 250 IFC real-time river and stream gauge sensors, more than 50 soil moisture/temperature sensors, flood inundation maps for 22 Iowa communities and rainfall products for the entire state,” he said.
It would also jeopardize Iowa’s $96 million dollar federal Iowa Watershed Approach HUD grant and the Center's ability to continue to implement projects in nine Iowa watersheds.