Wallace to attend Upper Mississippi River Conference

Published 8:40 am Saturday, August 25, 2018

Austin Planning and Zoning Director Holly Wallace will be representing the city at the 11th annual Upper Mississippi River Conference from Oct. 24-25 in Moline, Illinois.

The conference theme is “Our Watershed: Working Together for Healthy Waters and Flood-Resilient Communities.” Wallace will be part of a discussion panel entitled “Flooding? What Flooding? Forward Thinking Communities Learn to Live With the River, Not Fight the River.”

“I was initially approached by one of the organizers who works for the Army Corps of Engineers,” Wallace said. “I have a background working with the Corps of Engineers doing water quality research. He knew that Austin had done a lot of work with flood control.”

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Wallace currently does flood plain management in concert with the Engineering Department and administers the Community Rating System Program.

“Austin has had a history of flooding,” Wallace said. “We have the Cedar River, Turtle Creek and Dobbins Creek. One of our biggest floods was Sept. 15, 2004, and the estimated damage was $8-$10 million.”

Wallace said that the city currently acquires repetitive loss properties, which are properties that have been flooded more than once, to help prevent significant damage.

But, the panel will mainly focus on the Community Rating System, which Wallace says has a number of requirements and steps that translate into savings on flood insurance for those required to have it.  It also has an outreach program, such as informing people about the importance of flood insurance.

Other members of the panel include Cindy Cregmiles of Jersey County, Illinois, Phil Risseeuw of Darlington, Wisconsin, Stan Povlick of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and David Sturch of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Paul Osman of the Illinois Office of Water Resources will moderate the panel.

“We all have the same problems, just on a different scale,” Wallace said. “We all look to each other’s communities to find solutions and support and be more effective and efficient in how we approach our problems.”