A committee in the Iowa Senate has passed a comprehensive bill to enact major flood protections for Iowa communities. The bill enacts some of the recommendations of the Water Resources Coordinating Council which lawmakers appointed after the floods of 2008. The Council recommended keeping development out of the 500 year flood plain, instead of the current 100 year flood restrictions.
But Cedar Rapids Democrat Rob Hogg says the bill would restrict only the development of emergency facilities such as hospitals. “We begin to use the 500 year flood plain to make sure the development in the flood plain is only what’s only appropriate,” Hogg said. The panel also recommended new mandatory storm water standards. But Hogg says the bill doesn’t go that far.
“We decided to (include) some flexibility, but cities and counties will be required to consider those as they develop storm water ordinances,” Hogg said. The Iowa Chamber Alliance and the League of Cities opposed the restrictions in the original bill. The bill mandates studies of the state’s watersheds to learn whether wetlands or buffer strips might work to contain the rain that falls. But the bill leaves the funding of flood prevention up to local governments.
The council had recommended, for example, taxing beverage containers to pay for flood protection. The bill also requires contractors to restore soil to its original state after construction projects to minimize runoff.