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Flood mitigation efforts examined in Monroe County

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SPARTA, Wis. - (WXOW) Year after year, large scale flooding events continue to destroy parts of the Upper Midwest. In the last few years, areas in Western Wisconsin have been some of the hardest hit.

The Monroe County Climate Change Task Force is taking steps to be a front runner of flood mitigation in the state.

The Task Force hosted members from the Iowa Flood Center, hoping to gain knowledge of their cutting edge efforts to both communicate real-time flood information, and also develop strategies to alleviate future damage.

The Flood Center at the University of Iowa was created over 10 years ago as a result of devastating floods in the eastern part of the state. It's filled with some of the country's top researchers on the subject, so Monroe County wanted to bring their ideas to the state of Wisconsin.

In the last few years, Monroe County saw a large hit to the transportation and agriculture sectors. The two main areas of concern within the county are the La Crosse and Kickapoo watersheds. The Climate Task Force said they need to make a change, or these events could eventually destroy entire communities.

Monroe County Climate Change Task Force member Ronald Luethe said something has to be done, and that they can't afford more of these devastating blows. "It's going to hollow out our communities that's the problem. People are not going to stay here because we are having these issues," said Luethe. "We need to give them options. We need to give them hope. We need to give them the education that we can gain through this process and how we can live in this environment that is changing."

The Iowa Flood Center has hundreds of stream sensors and monitoring stations which allow you to track flood progress and water levels in real-time. That way communities downstream would have ample time to prepare. They also have many long term programs that include flood plain management. These programs allow areas to redefine building standards within the floodplain. Monroe County hopes to be able to implement both short and long term solutions soon.

The Task Force will apply for land use grants at both the state and federal levels for initial funding and have the first stage of their project completed by 2020. In the time being, they are spreading the message about flood mitigation in efforts to get surrounding areas onboard.

Warren Sears

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