Iowa QCs Water Plant Is Now Protected from Flooding

October  25, 2013

After more than 40 years, a critical part of Davenport's riverfront is finally protected by a flood wall. Thursday morning at the Iowa American Water treatment plant, the Corps of Engineers held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the completion of a permanent flood wall. Construction began nearly two years ago on the wall made of steel, concrete, and dirt.

Project Manager, Mark Pratt from Corps of Engineers, says the top is eight feet higher than the record crest on the Mississippi River in 1993. But you can't even see most of it. "Thirty feet down to bedrock, sheet metal sits on a steel base. That runs the 2,000-foot length of the wall so no there's no seepage. No water can get over to  other side of the flood wall." 

Ron Fournier started working for the Corps of Engineers' Rock Island District two years before the Great Flood. "In '93, the Des Moines lost its water plant. It went down during the flood. They had to supply potable water to the whole city. It was a bad situation. It'll take one heckuva flood to go over this wall!"

It's been decades since Congress voted to authorize the permanent flood protection project. And at times, Fournier says, it's been controversial. "If you spend $1, the taxpayer must get $1 benefit in return. This wall was originally supposed to protect all of  the Davenport riverfront. But the city did a good job moving buildings and building flood protection for others. This part of the flood wall was the only section left that's justified by the benefit cost ratio."

The federal government paid for 75% of the 11 million dollar cost. Davenport and the Iowa American Water Company paid the rest. The plant located along River Drive at Mound Street treats water for most of Scott County. And a rate increase may be needed to help pay for the flood wall. But, the next time the Mississippi floods, the company will save money by not having to build a temporary levee.