Spencer is bringing in experts to take a closer look at preliminary updated floodplain maps that include parts of town not previously within flood zone boundaries.
On Monday, the city council approved hiring McClure Engineering Company to review preliminary floodplain maps from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, prepare any suggested revisions and provide the city with a report on where it goes from there.
“We thought that collectively we don’t have the expertise to really fully look at that map, understand what it’s saying, provide the comments back,” City manager Amanda Mack said at the meeting. “We thought we needed to bring someone on board who really does have expertise in that.”
The city has until April 12 to submit comments on the preliminary map before it takes the next step toward becoming official.
Iowa DNR officials shared the draft flood zone maps with the city late last year. The DNR conducted a second study after city staff questioned the DNR about why certain areas were included in flood zones.
Results from that study came back to the city about a month ago, planning director Kirby Schmidt told the council.
“So now they come back and say, ‘Well, here’s what we have inside Spencer,’ but then they included portions of the Green Industrial (Center) and the airport in the flood zones,” Schmidt said.
City staff is not sure some areas, including those Schmidt mentioned, should be in flood zones.
That’s where McClure comes in.
“Hopefully, they take all their maps they gave these engineers and they’ll go through it again and figure out if this is really the truth and then what we can do about it,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt told the council the DNR may have changed how it’s determining what areas go into floodplain zones.
“One of the concerns I had was I asked how they establish a floodplain,” he said. “My old training was it’s coming from the river. The river crests, it comes out. This (preliminary map) is they’re including areas of surface drainage now, which is troubling. So if they changed the parameters, there’s not much we can do about it.”
That change now puts places on the outer edges of Spencer in a flood zone.
McClure’s contract with the city is not to exceed $12,500, according to an agenda memo. Cost to perform the work will be paid out of the city’s storm sewer reserve fund.
The memo also states that McClure Engineering may need to be brought in again if formal map revisions are needed.