Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2011

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Krajewski, Witold

First Committee Member

Weber, Larry

Second Committee Member

Mantilla, Ricardo


This document presents a sketch of the engineering and legal considerations necessary to implement a distributed storage flood mitigation system in Iowa. This document first presents the results of a simulation done to assess the advantages of active storage reservoirs over passive reservoirs for flood mitigation. Next, this paper considers how forecasts improve the operation of a single reservoir in preventing floods. After demonstrating the effectiveness of accurate forecasts on a single active storage reservoir, this thesis moves on to a discussion of distributed storage with the idea that the advantages of active reservoirs with accurate forecasting could be applied to the distributed storage system. The analysis of distributed storage begins with a determination of suitable locations for reservoirs in the Clear Creek Watershed, near Coralville, Iowa, using two separate algorithms. The first algorithm selected the reservoirs based on the highest average reservoir depth, while the second located reservoirs based on maximizing the storage in two specific travel bands within the watershed. This paper also discusses the results of a land cover analysis on the reservoirs, determining that, based on the land cover inundated, several reservoirs would cause too much damage to be practical. The ultimate goal of a distributed storage system is to use the reservoirs to protect an urban area from significant flood damage. For this thesis, the Clear Creek data were extrapolated to the Cedar River basin with the intention to evaluate the feasibility and gain a rough approximation of the requirements for a distributed storage system to protect Cedar Rapids. Discussion then centered on an approximation of the distributed storage system that could have prevented the catastrophic Flood of 2008 in Cedar Rapids. There is significant potential for a distributed storage system to be a cost effective way of protecting Cedar Rapids from future flooding on the scale of the Flood of 2008. However, more analysis is needed to more accurately determine the costs and benefits of a distributed storage system in the Cedar River basin. This paper also recommends that a large scale distributed storage system should be controlled by an entity be created within the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. A smaller distributed storage system could be managed by a soil and water conservation subdistrict. Iowa allows for condemnation of the land needed for the gate structures and the flowage easements necessary to build and operate a distributed storage system. Finally, this paper discusses the environmental law concerns with a distributed storage system, particularly the Clean Water Act requirement for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.


Cedar River, Clear Creek, Distributed storage, Flood mitigation, Flood protection


viii, 85 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 84-85).


Copyright 2011 Travis Baxter