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Water Resilience

Utility Success Stories

Why Invest in Flood Mitigation?

Elkader, Iowa (population 1,213) is highly vulnerable to flooding from the Turkey River. Past flooding has damaged components of the Elkader Sewage Treatment Plant, including the main sanitary lift station and the sewage aeration lagoon system. Failure of the lift station or overtopping of the berm at the aeration lagoons would result in loss of wastewater service for the city, raw sewage backups into homes and businesses, and untreated sewage discharges to the river.

Working with the state, Elkader applied for and received funding from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to increase the height of an existing berm around the aeration lagoons, build a floodwall and install flood resilient doors to protect the main sanitary lift station. The project was completed in October 2000 at a total cost of $134,917 (50 percent from the city and 50 percent from HMGP funds). Elkader has since experienced major flooding in May 2004 and June 2008. Because of the mitigation measures, the wastewater treatment plant and lift station were not impacted and continued to operate during these floods. According to a 2010 FEMA Loss Avoidance Study, the total losses avoided for the project was over five times the total project investment. For the city of Elkader, the investment was considered a “no-brainer.”