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Corps to Increase Flow From Coralville Dam
Updated: Tuesday, May 28 2013, 09:17 PM CDT
IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- The Army Corps of Engineers at the Coralville Lake will increase the amount of water flowing through the damn from 6,000 cu ft/s to 10,000 cu ft/s, in the hope that it will alleviate lake levels and delay future flooding.
The increased flow will cause the Iowa River south of the dam to swell, putting flood plane areas at risk, and causing the University of Iowa to take precautions by placing Hesco barriers around the Mayflower Residence Hall and evacuating residents there.
"I feel pretty safe they're taking the necessary precautions to prevent a spillover," said Mayflower resident Kirubel Hailu.
The Army Corps of Engineers is doing its part to prevent a spillover at the lake. The corps will increase the flow to 10,000 cu ft/s at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
"Ten-thousand (cu ft/s) is not something to be alarmed by. It's what we see up to May 1 every year," said Johnson County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Dave Wilson.
The number may not be alarming, but it does create a delicate balance for the corps. One of the variables is what happens downstream, from Iowa City on to Wapelo, which is already experiencing flooding. The corps needs to keep the lake below the spillway, but it can't flood out those other areas.
"We really look at the basin itself, the watershed, the entire watershed, not just the localized areas," said Coralville Lake Operations Manager Dee Goldman.
The corps has a regulatory plan it uses to figure out how much water leaves the lake, and that plan doesn't do enough to manage how much water is currently coming in, Wilson said.
"A lot of things change in 20 years, and a 20 year old (regulatory) plan is problematic," Wilson said.
The corps and the county have talked about changing the plan since 2008, but there is not enough federal funding to complete the studies necessary to do that.
"With Congress and the state of this country, it's hard to fund a study when you can't take care of some basic maintenance," Goldman said.
With that in mind, Goldman and Wilson said they are doing what they can to play by the rules, while keeping the flood risk down.
"We're working with the corps to exercise as much latitude as they have within the plan, and it's not a lot," Wilson said.
Those who flood in 1993 and 2008 need to start taking precautions on Tuesday to keep their homes and belongings safe, Wilson said. The lake levels are going to continue to rise, and that may happen as soon as June 1.
The lake could crest the spillway as soon as June 6, he said.