U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Friends of Coralville to take water out of Coralville lake, prevent flooding

New updates to the Coralville Water Control Plan will ensure flooding does not increase in Coralville Lake.


Ayrton Breckenridge

The Coralville Reservoir is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021.

Emily Delgado, News Reporter

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Friends of Coralville Lake will pump water from the lake to decrease flooding caused by its rising sedimentation levels.

Friends of Coralville Lake, a non-profit organization that works to improve and maintain the lake area, are trying to stop increasing levels of sedimentation that are collecting on the lake’s floor. Sedimentation affects wildlife management, conservation storage, and drought management, said Jon Kounkel, president of Friends of Coralville Lake.

“We’ve been working for the last few years on trying to determine how we can help impact the lake itself because there’s really young, the Corps of Engineers who uses it for flood control and drought control,” Kounkel said.

The newest update to the Coralville Water Control plan, which addresses frequent flooding and increased sedimentation, was approved in March and is a collaboration between the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Friends of Coralville Lake. The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will fund the project.

“The lake is tilting at a pretty rapid rate to where, right now, the lake, the Army corps estimate it has about 20 to 30 years of life left before the lake is all sorted into about three feet deeper,” Kounkel said.

Iowa City Parks and Recreation is not involved in the plan, Director of Iowa City Parks and Recreation Juli Seydell Johnson said.

Seydell Johnson said citizens have expressed concern about Coralville Lake’s declining water levels.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers sought out the Friends of Coralville Lake a few years ago to assist the group with the plan, Kounkel said. The plan was last updated in 2001 and defines how and when water is stored and released.

“We’re a nonprofit that the Army Corps of Engineers helped push to get started probably about six years or so ago, something like that,” Kounkel said.

Coralville Lake is also known as the Coralville Dam, which was built to prevent flood damages and provide water if the Iowa River experiences a drought.

Money distributed by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors last year will fund this year’s projects within the plan.

“The Johnson county Board of Supervisors have provided some funding for us to launch an action plan that we just kicked off in the first quarter and just completed,” Kounkel said.

The plan was approved after hearing public input and collected data, said Dee Goldman, operations project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers at Coralville Lake.

“We met with the public, we had three or four public meetings where we gathered information, gathered data, gathered concerns, and then we utilize all of that to formulate what our new plan should look like,” he said.

A main goal of the plan is to ensure that flood damage doesn’t increase on the lake, Goldman said.

“In that we’re able to evacuate some of those waters a little earlier a little faster, which hopefully prevents us from getting into those higher elevations and looking at our spillway discharges quite as frequently,” he said. “I think that the real benefit is in the flood-damage reduction.”

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