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City of Cedar Rapids Begins Construction of Regional Detention Basin

City of Cedar Rapids Begins Construction of Regional Detention Basin

Cedar Rapids residents know all too well the realities of flash flooding. Our community has grown adept at quickly responding to river threats, and we are integrating more and more green infrastructure, practices, and incentives to help reduce the negative impacts of high-intensity rain events. 

The newest project aimed at reducing flood risk got underway this week. Intending to use the land for stormwater management, the City acquired a parcel of land in 1999. After years of organizing multiple informal and formal meetings with property owners, developing design plans, acquiring temporary construction easements, holding a public hearing, and gaining Council approval, the City began constructing this regional detention basin located west of 18th Street SW, directly east of Hughes Drive SW.

This project will collect stormwater runoff from 94 acres of residential and commercial development upstream of the basin, safely storing it and reducing the flash flood risk for the surrounding neighborhood. This regional detention basin is being constructed to protect public health, safety, and property. Without the basin, properties between the basin and the Cedar River – specifically areas along Rockford Rd. SW and 3rd Ave. SW – are at a higher risk for flash flooding during storm events. Upon completion of the project, the stormwater runoff rate from a major storm (100-year rain event) will be reduced from 465 cubic feet per second to 50 cubic feet per second, a 90 percent reduction.
Detention Basin PlanIn order for the detention basin to have the capacity needed to accommodate stormwater runoff for a 100-year rain event, the entire 3.5 acre property will be re-graded and large quantities of dirt will be removed to ensure the basin is sized appropriately. The site development plan aims to save 43 trees along the perimeter of the property and limit the environmental impact of this project. Unfortunately, several trees and a small pond with a higher elevation than the bottom of the planned basin will be removed to accommodate the basin.

Pollinator ImageWhile it’s never the desire of City staff to disrupt wildlife habitat, protecting public life and property by mitigating flood risk warrants transforming this area into critical stormwater infrastructure. The plans for the basin, including seeding with natural grasses, wildflowers and pollinator habitat, also ensure the area remains an attractive place for wildlife and the neighborhood.

Our staff and engineering partners worked closely with the Army Corps of Engineers and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) through this project’s planning and design process. These regulatory agencies provided strict oversight of the project and gave direction on how to build the basin with the least environmental impact possible. All of their recommendations to limit the environmental impact of this project are being implemented. They also instructed the City on topics like what to do with the fish in the pond and how to reconstruct the wetland disturbed by the construction project. The City is subject to the rules and regulations put in place by these agencies and collaborated with them to acquire all necessary permits for the proposed improvements.

If you’d like to learn more about this project and the efforts being done to protect and replenish this environmental area, an overview and FAQ are available here. Any additional questions about this project can be directed to the City’s Public Works Department Sewer and Stormwater Engineering Division by calling 319-286-5802 or emailing sewer@cedar-rapids.org.

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