The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as part of preliminary study, has determined that a “preferred” flood protection system for Cedar Rapids would cost twice as much as the property it would protect. The results of the cost-benefit analysis means the Corps can not recommend that Congress approve the needed federal financing.
Despite the setback, Cedar Rapids Mayor-elect Ron Corbett says the city shouldn’t settle for anything but a system that would prevent the kind of flooding that occurred in 2008. “This just puts a little more added pressure on Senators Harkin and Grassley, along with Congressmen Loebsack and Braley, to help Iowa out and help the people of Cedar Rapids out,” Corbett told Radio Iowa.
Cedar Rapids City Administrator Jim Prosser says the $1 billion levee system the city would like to build could still become a reality. “Clearly a community that is as important as Cedar Rapids is to the state and the region needs to make sure that we’re providing flood protection to at least a 100 year level,” Prosser said.
The Corps report indicates the cost of building a system to protect Cedar Rapids against a 500-year flood would be around 25% more than a 100-year flood system. Prosser says the city could scale back the project, but should have something built within 10 to 15 years.
Part of the flood protection plan includes improved watershed management. “That is something the state has initiated already…but we know that realizing the impact of improved watershed management is several decades away,” Prosser said.