College receives $62,300 grant for flood berm improvements

Sept. 18, 2009

Luther College has been awarded a $62,300 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to raise, stabilize and repair the flood control berm located on the lower campus of Luther College.

The grant money will be used to increase the elevation of the flood control berm to prevent floodwaters from damaging the college’s athletic buildings and sports fields.

In June 2008, heavy rainfall caused extensive flooding in the Upper Iowa River Valley. The record high-water levels of the river created a 20-foot breach in the berm protecting the college’s lower campus, causing more than $2 million in flood damage.

The college, along with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, funded repair of the breach, but the USDE grant will provide additional funding to increase the height of portions of the berm to reduce the threat of future floods.

The grant will also be used to clear and grade the slopes and to level the top of the berm, creating a 12-foot wide strip. The land-side slopes of the berm will be reseeded with perennial turf, and the river-side slopes will be planted in low-growing prairie grasses.

To maintain the reconstructed berm, Luther will control tree regrowth, implement a program of mowing and annually burn the prairie grasses. The maintenance will also improve visual monitoring of river levels during times of high water.

Construction on the project began Sept. 14.