Dec 06, 2018

University of Iowa Scientists Monitor Flood Control With Computer Models

The team of scientists will use computer models to monitor flood control in the Iowa Great Lakes

Scientists map flood control in Iowa Great Lakes
Scientists map flood control in Iowa Great Lakes

A team of scientists from University of Iowa have begun using computer models to monitor flood control in the Iowa Great Lakes, particularly the Lower Gar Lake outlet. The study will monitor rainfall levels and assess how much water can pass through culverts at the outlet that currently restricts flows.

Led by Larry Weber, the executive associate dean for University of Iowa’s College of Engineering, the team will explore the benefits of adding more culverts, using different types and shapes of culverts, or removing culverts and replacing them with a bridge or dam to allow more water to flow, as reported by Iowa Public Radio.

“We want to make sure we design something that has the utility and lifespan of many decades,” Weber said. “So we want to make sure we think of increasing intensity of rainfall in the future.”

The study comes in the wake of heavy rainfall this past summer that caused shoreline erosion and temporarily shut down the Iowa Great Lakes in July, an issue that, if long-term, could prove detrimental to the economy of the community.

Weber compared his team’s computer modeling system to a popular simulation-based video game where players build a city, called SimCity.

“This is kind of similar in that our model includes all the land cover and land use, the location of buildings and urban areas in the watershed,” Weber said. “As we’re looking to the future, we could look at the benefit of building wetlands out in the landscape and capturing the water or holding the water back out in the rural landscape before it even flows into the lakes.”

The scientists will present their research to the Iowa Great Lakes Assn. and local officials early next year.

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