A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-03-15
  • Publisher: Univ of Iowa Pr
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In June 2008, the rivers of eastern Iowa rose above their banks to create floods of epic proportions; their amazing size-flowing in places at a rate nearly double that of the previous record flood-and the rapidity of their rise ruined farmlands and displaced thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses. In Cedar Rapids, the waters inundated more than nine square miles of the downtown area; in Iowa City, where the flood was also the most destructive in history, the University of Iowars"s arts campus was destroyed. By providing a solid base of scientific and technical information presented with unusual clarity and a wealth of supporting illustrations, the contributors to this far-reaching book, many of whom dealt firsthand with the 2008 floods, provide a detailed roadmap of the causes and effects of future devastating floods. The twenty-five essays fall naturally into four sections. "Rising Rivers, Spreading Waters" begins by comparing the 2008 floods with the midwestern floods of 1993, moves on to trace community responses to the 2008 floods, and ends by illuminating techniques for forecasting floods and determining their size and frequency. "Why Here, Why Now?" searches for possible causes of the 2008 floods and of flooding in general: annual crops and urban landscapes, inflows into and releases from reservoirs, and climate change. "Flood Damages, Flood Costs, Flood Benefits" considers the complex mix of flood costs and effects, emphasizing damages to cities and farmlands as well as potential benefits to natural communities and archaeological sites. "Looking Back, Looking Forward" lays out approaches to managing the floods of the future that are sure to come. While the book draws most of its examples from one particular region, it explains flooding throughout a much larger region-the midwestern Corn Belt-and thus its sobering yet energizing lessons apply well beyond eastern Iowa. By examining the relationships among rivers, floodplains, weather, and modern society; by stressing matters of science and fact rather than social or policy issues; and by addressing multiple environmental problems and benefits,A Watershed Yearinforms and educates all those who experienced the 2008 floods and all those concerned with the larger causes of flooding.

Author Biography

Ecologist Cornelia Mutel is the historian and archivist for IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering at the University of Iowa College of Engineering. She is the author of Fragile Giants: A Natural History of the Loess Hills (Iowa, 1989) and The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa (Iowa, 2008), coauthor of From Grassland to Glacier: The Natural History of Colorado and the Surrounding Region, and coeditor of Land of the Fragile Giants: Landscapes, Environments, and Peoples of the Loess Hills (Iowa, 1994) and The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook for Prairies, Savannas, and Woodlands.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. xi
Rising Rivers, Spreading Waters
What Causes Floods in Iowa?p. 7
Why Were the 2008 Floods So Large?p. 19
Iowa City and the Floodp. 31
The University of Iowa and the Floodp. 39
Linn County and the Floodp. 45
Forecasting a Record Floodp. 53
Estimating Flood Frequencyp. 61
Why Here, Why Now?
The Hydrologic Footprint of Annual Cropsp. 77
The Hydrology of Urban Landscapesp. 87
The Coralville Dam and Reservoir: Design and Operationp. 95
The Dam and the Flood: Cause or Cure?p. 103
Was Climate Change Involved?p. 111
Flood Damages, Flood Costs, Flood Benefits
Flood Effects on Archaeological Sitesp. 123
Flood Effects on Modern Communitiesp. 131
Economic Losses from the Floodsp. 139
How Did the Floods Affect Farmland?p. 147
What's in Your Floodwaters?p. 155
Air Quality Hazardsp. 163
Flood Effects on Natural Communitiesp. 171
Looking Back, Looking Forward
When (Not If) the Big One Comesp. 185
Watershed-Based Flood Managementp. 193
Flood Barriersp. 199
Managing Urban Runoffp. 205
Perennial Farming Systems That Resist Floodingp. 215
The Great Flood of 1993; Did We Learn Any Lessons?p. 227
Epiloguep. 235
Notes on Contributorsp. 239
Indexp. 247
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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