Rain partially to blame for causing sinkhole in Iowa City - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rain partially to blame for causing sinkhole in Iowa City


The recent heavy rain is partially to blame for causing a sinkhole in Iowa City. If heavy rains continue sinkholes could be a problem across Eastern Iowa.

Rain alone doesn't cause these sinkholes to form. It's a combination of rain and an already existing problem, like a crack or hole on a storm sewer. However, you may not know if you have an issue like that near your home or business until a sinkhole forms.

Grant Gambrall and Frank Tanke have been working to lay down mulch outside the Johnson County Administration Building, work they fear they may have to re-do if a sinkhole grows.

"It's just kind of crazy that something that seems so safe can just vanish like that," said Gambrall.

The sinkhole was caused by a problem with the storm sewer which worsened with heavy rains. The rain Monday caused this sinkhole to continue to grow.

"When the weather's really wet like this, the soil's become more mobile and it tends to cause sinkholes more easily," said Rick Fosse, Iowa City Public Works Director.

Any defect with a storm or sanitary sewer has the potential to become a sinkhole.

"Virtually every home has a sanitary sewer line back to it and you sometimes have sinkholes related to those," said Fosse.

Before a sinkhole forms, there are some things you can look for.

"You can see depression form before the hole actually forms," said Fosse. "Other times you're just taken by surprise."

Sinkholes are dangerous, so if you see one you shouldn't get too close.

"You don't know how deep they are or how stable the soil is surrounding them," said Fosse.

That's why the hole in Iowa City has been blocked off.

So far, there's only the one sinkhole in Iowa City. Fosse says the last time Iowa City had problems with a lot of sinkholes forming was back in 1993, when the city received almost 62.89 inches of rain. So far this year there's been more than 24.6 inches of precipitation.

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