Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 2, 2014

Kalona moving ahead on flood mitigation

By Mary Zielinski | May 01, 2013
City administrators Ryan Schlabaugh, left, of Kalona  and Nick Pacha of Wellman met with Jody Bailey April 17 to discuss plans for an English River Watershed Authority that could involve 17 cities and six counties.  Riverside city administrator Rusty Rogerson also attended.  A major meeting for all is May 7 at the Oak Knoll Country Club in North English.

KALONA — The next step for long-term flood mitigation along 625 miles  of the English River is an English River Watershed Management Authority (ERWMA) that could involve six counties and 16 communities
In short, it means a 28E agreement to create a  management entity to assess, monitor and reduce flood risk in the “watershed boundary of English River and adjoining tributaries..” Those involved would be Kalona, Wellman, North English, Riverside, Keswick, Deep River, Parnell, South English, Barnes City, Grinnell, Millersburg, Montezuma, Webster, Gibson, Kinross, Guernsey and Iowa, Keokuk, Mahaska, Poweshiek and Washington counties.
Kalona city administrator Ryan Schlabaugh, who spearheaded he effort, explained the five-page agreement was reviewed by the city’s attorney  and will be a central part of a large initial meeting.
All the entities were invited to meeting at 7 p.m. May 7, at the Oak Knoll County Club in North English.  Schlabaugh said that as of Monday, there were 60 representatives planning to attend from the communities, counties as well as the Iowa Flood Center, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMS).
Depending on the response and resources that result from next week’s meeting, the next stage will be long-term flood mitigation work. Creation of the suggested management authority is a direct result of last year’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mapping of Kalona and the county itself.  From the start, Kalona, which initially found about half of itself designated as being in a flood plain, undertook efforts for more detailed mapping, especially with the help of the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) that both reduced the flood plain area as well as offered mitigation strategies.  Earlier this month, the council hired Jodi Bailey of Hills (for a cost up to $4,200), an urban planner, to help with the project and setting up the management authority.
There are no firm costs for operating the ERWMA, but Slaubaugh has noted it could be about $50,000.  Bailey said it likely will be fall before the ERWMA is established, and it might not be all 16 communities and six counties.
During a presentation at the Riverside work session Monday, Slaubaugh said that the recent flash flooding in the area has heightened interest, especially since Kalona, Riverside and Wellman met the “very day we all had flooding.”

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