MSU prepares for possible flooding of Red Cedar River
As temperatures rise, the snow melts away and April showers bring May flowers, the banks of Red Cedar River are slowly getting higher.
With more rain to be expected, according to recent forecasts, flooding is bound to happen.
“Flooding mostly happens around this time of year, early spring when thawing or melting is occurring in the ground,” Infrastructure Planning and Facilities maintenance engineer and central control supervisor Stacy Nurenberg said.
Nevertheless, Nurenberg and other experts at MSU said there’s not much to worry about in terms of flooding this year.
“The river is high,” fisheries and wildlife professor Daniel Hayes said. “That’s clear. But whether we’re in a flood is a different story.”
Hayes said there are standards the National Weather Service uses to gauge flooding, and while the river has gotten pretty high at some points this year, it hasn’t entered the “flood” range yet.
Nurenberg said at MSU, no flood damage has occurred on a gauge reading of 8.6 feet and lower, but MSU begins taking preventative measures at about 6 feet.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as of Wednesday afternoon, Red Cedar River’s last observed height was around 4.8 feet.
“(The Red Cedar flooding) hasn’t and is not expected to affect anything this year,” Nurenberg said.
Nurenberg also said should Red Cedar River ever start to flood this year, Infrastructure Planning and Facilities has an extensive flood plan to put in place to protect MSU assets.
“We can predict what is affected at each river level as it rises, and we have mapped out the actions that need to be taken to protect our assets as much as we can,” Nurenberg said. “Extreme flooding conditions will include using flood protection devices to build walls to protect certain buildings in the floodplain. Measures are also taken to protect MSU’s utility infrastructure of steam and electric, which are all underground and cross the river to get from the power plant to north campus.”
Hayes also clarified floods are not always a distinctly negative occurrence.
“One of the things is, as humans, we have these connotations of floods being damaging,” Hayes said. “But it’s worth recognizing that our word for ‘flood’ is normal. For a lot of the big rivers, like the Mississippi and the Nile, floods are what made them the cradle of civilization and important agriculturally.”
Hayes said floods, in our terms, usually aren’t good or bad. They just are.
“We will have floods,” Hayes said. “There are times it rains a lot and times there’s a lot of snow melting, and that’s just how nature works.”