A new map by University of Iowa researchers shows nearly 450,000 acres of Iowa farmland is under constant flood threat.

Researcher Enes Yildirim says he developed the statewide map to help farmers compare their flood risk with their crop productivity. “There are lots of regions very fertile, but also under flood threat, so those regions might need extra precaution, let’s say maybe a levee or some sort of other flood mitigation,” Vildirim says.

Four wetlands zones in Iowa have the highest risk. They are part of four river valleys:  the Middle Cedar, North Raccoon, South Skunk and West Nishnabotna. Cropland in those areas have a 50 percent chance of flooding each year according to Yildirim’s research. He hopes policymakers will consider adding more flood protection to those areas or converting them into wetlands.

“It will be helpful for maintaining the food production and also it will be helpful for cities to get less extreme floods,” he says.

The University of Iowa research indicates floods lead to the destruction of around 230 million dollars worth of crops in Iowa each year. Yildirim anticipates that number will grow as floods become more frequent within the state.

(By Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio)