State lawmakers this week will continue work on a comprehensive flood mitigation bill supporters hope will prevent a repeat of the massive floods of 2008. Dozens of lobbyists crowded a statehouse meeting room recently for an initial airing of the bill.
It will enact new restrictions on development in flood plains and require more soil restoration after construction projects. Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids spoke about the potentially controversial bill. “I understand everyone’s going to have their concerns and we’re going to work through them, but this has to be about change,” Hogg said.
The bill would restrict development in what’s known as the 500 year flood plain, a far larger area than the 100 year flood plain which guides development now. Contractors would face new mandates to restore soil to curb runoff and cities could face new storm water standards. The bill’s proponents say if many of the provisions had been adopted after the 1993 floods, the disaster of 2008 might have been averted.
Hogg asked the group if the floods of 2008 don’t spur the state to change, what will? “I can see all of you looking around here…you’ve got some provision you do like or you don’t like,” Hogg said. “We’ve still got to change. It’s about the well being of Iowans.”
Flooding has caused an estimated $20 billion in damage in the state over the past 25 years. Supporters of the bill say they are especially hopeful about a provision to study major watersheds in the state, like the area north of Cedar Rapids, to find ways to divert water where it hits the ground. The bill would enact the recommendations of the Water Resources Coordinating Council, a group of experts the legislature appointed to address flood prevention.