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GETTING STRONGER: Levees Improve After ’93 Flood

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Since the flood of '93, the city has placed a priority on protecting businesses, residents and the city's infrastructure.

“Over the years they have been very insistent that we be diligent about looking at the need for flood protection improvements,” says Des Moines City Manager, Rick Clark

Clark says the City of Des Moines and the Federal Government have spent more than 120 million dollars on flood protection, that includes things like new pumping stations and an improved sewer system, but the focus has been on the city's levees.

“Were much better protected today then we were in 1993,” says Clark.

Several levees around Des Moines have been reconstructed but Clark says there are still more that need to be built stronger.

“If we're diligent about this work it will give us the level of flood protection that we need for 'x' amount of years.”

Engineers are using new road construction techniques and applying them to levee construction.

Iowa State construction engineering professor, David White says part of the problem with the levees back in '93 was the soil and how it was compacted.

Construction crews used to take individual samples of soil compaction but now are able to survey the entire land with a new piece of technology.

It's called the smart compactor and it's the only one of its kind in the world.

The machine collects soil compaction data then delivers the information through the internet to detect the density of the soil.

“The beauty of having a measurement system on it is that we know where all the bad spots are so we can fix before it comes a major problem,” says White.

White says the new technology will make major foot prints in levee reconstruction and stability.

“You’re going to have a greater reliability that the system is going to function as intended.”