UI boathouse built to withstand flooding

The University of Iowa's new $7 million Boathouse Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009 in Iowa City. The new facility, built along
The University of Iowa's new $7 million Boathouse Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009 in Iowa City. The new facility, built along the iowa River, was constructed to withstand flooding with the mechanical room on the second floor and materials on the first floor that are able to take on water. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

The University of Iowa's new $7 million dollar boathouse built right next to the Iowa River is finished.

The University knows all too well this area frequently floods which is why they built this multi-million dollar facility to withstand flooding.

Even before the historic 2008 flood inundated this area, the University of Iowa knew it needed to build its new boathouse to withstand flooding.

"We knew we needed to build portions of it to flood and so we did that with the storage bays,” said Jane Meyer, senior associate athletic director for the University of Iowa.

But the June flood taught them that their preparations were inadequate, so they made some changes.

"Move mechanicals up to the second floor,” said Meyer. “Make sure all the materials used on the first flood are able to flood - in other words no dry wall, no special wall treatments, all those kinds of things, concrete floors - that's why you're not going to see carpet.”

Those additional features cost the university an extra $700,000 – money they say is well spent because it helps protect the boathouse's many state-of-the-art features.

"Rowing tank, ERG room, locker room, restroom, meeting spaces,” explained Meyer.

If this place does flood in the future, all this concrete will make it easy to clean.

"You can simply power wash ‘em down, clean them, sanitize them, repaint them and we're good to go,” said Meyer.

Meyer said the university feels confident that if this river decides to overflow its bank, even as much as it did 15 months ago, they'll be ready.

"We never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us but at least we feel based on what she's thrown at us to date we can accommodate it,” said Meyer.

The university says this boathouse is covered under their insurance policy, but didn't have specifics about flood insurance coverage.

The boathouse is the first UI building named solely for a female benefactor – alumna Dr. Sue Beckwith of Des Moines.

The official dedication is this Friday.Jami Brinton, KCRG-TV

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