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Iowa City plans to install permanent storm pumps on Normandy, Stevens drives

After 2008, when the water reached around 18,000 cubic feet per second on the Iowa River, the city started installing temporary pumps in the sewers at Normandy and Stevens Drives to prevent flooding.

Whenever heavy rain strikes in Iowa City, certain streets along the Iowa river are at risk for flooding.

The city is considering installing automated pumps in the sewers at Normandy and Stevens Drives to prevent future flooding from closing those streets.

"In general when the Coralville Reservoir, when they open their gates up fully, we have some low points in town that get flooded," said Senior Civil Engineer Ben Clark.

This was especially the case in 2008, when the reservoir could not sustain heavy rainfall enough to stop the flooding.

After 2008, when the water reached around 18,000 cubic feet per second on the Iowa River, the city started installing temporary pumps in the sewers at Normandy and Stevens Drives to prevent flooding.

"Placing sand bags in the storm sewer pipes, and, then, installing the temporary pumps. They're diesel powered, so somebody's gotta come and check on them," said Clark.

This could mean pumps were being checked for several weeks before being taken down, which happened during flooding in 2013 and 2014.

Now, a more permanent, and automated, pump system could make this process easier.

"These would have a way to easily block off the storm sewer pipes to keep the river water from flowing back into the street," said Clark. The pump would sense when water levels got too high and turn on as necessary.

Residents and the city know these pumps will not prevent an event like 2008 from damaging homes along the river, but they will help keep this road open when the water gets too high.

"They clearly need a back flow preventer on the storm drains, and once you've invested in that, you may as well put in a little vault with a permanent pump in," said resident Douglas Jones.

The city will be using the stevens drive storm sewer improvement fund for the project. The city wants to start work on these permanent pumps next spring.

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