New dam in Waverly provides flood relief to homes & businesses - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New dam in Waverly provides flood relief to hundreds of homes & businesses

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -

As November draws to a close, flooding is about the furthest thing from folks' minds. But for river communities, like Waverly, preventing a flood is a year-round consideration. Now, a new structure is pumping up the town's flood protection.

"We are able to keep the recreation, keep the electric power generation, and also provide flood protection for the city," City Administrator Richard Crayne said.

The inflatable dam is a relatively simple concept: when the water is low, a series of air bladders are filled, creating a reservoir upstream. When the river rises crews can easily deflate the bladders, allowing them to lower the river elevation upstream by three to four feet.

The dam only took a few months to construct, but plans have been in the works for more than a decade. Waverly initially started thinking about replacing the dam after the flood of 1999, but it took an even more devastating disaster to secure the funding.

"We went to the Army Corps of Engineers, and they looked at the study and said, that's a nice project, but it doesn't meet our cost-benefit ratio that our department has," Crayne explained. "Well, in 2008 the flood came, and money did open up in the Economic Development Administration."

In the event of a 100 year flood -- like Waverly experienced in 1999 -- the dam will protect more than 400 homes and businesses. It will also provide relief in a 500 year flood -- like 2008.

"There would still be some flooding in northwest and southwest Waverly. However, we'd do regional sandbagging. The level of flooding would be much less," Crayne said.

The inflatable dam cost about $4.3 million -- the entirety of which was funded by the Economic Development Administration and the Community Development Block Grant program. For those who have experienced mother nature's worst, the protection is priceless.

Construction did wrap up on time --despite the setback this April when a piece of the dam was washed away. Saturday, December 10th, the City of Waverly is hosting an open house and dedication ceremony for the new dam. The event kicks off at 11:30 at the Waverly Civic Center.

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