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Dubuque celebrates milestone for $230 million flood prevention project

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL)-- Dubuque has reached a major landmark with its Bee Branch Creek flood prevention project.

The $230 million project started back in 2005 following a series of flash floods in previous years that caused massive amounts of damage. It was found that much of this flooding was due to 50 percent of Dubuque lying within the six and a half square mile Bee Branch Wetland. The wetland drains into where the city's storm sewer was located, which is now the location of the Bee Branch Creek. 

The flood prevention project has been centered around converting the mile long concrete storm sewer into natural wetlands and the Bee Branch Creek which was there back when Dubuque first started. With the new train culvert section up and running the city has now converted almost all of the original storm sewer.

The new section contains six new storm water pipes which were tunneled under the nearby tracks. In addition there is also a water pumping station and a water level control system. This new flood prevention system is vastly better than the cities previous one. It can now handle what they call a “500-year rain event” compared to the previous which could only handle a “75-year rain event”.

Deron Meuhring, the project engineer, said the new system will give residents peace of mind.

“They can then, you know, rest easy at night when it’s raining or if they’re on vacation and at home a rainstorm moves in,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about coming home to a flooded basement.”

City officials did warn that until the Bee Branch Project is fully complete some Dubuque residents may still experience flooding during severe weather. The Bee Branch Project is estimated to be fully complete by 2040. It’s next step is to replace the city’s current flood gates in 2022.