Quaker Oats Flood Protection


  • Food + Beverage
  • Industrial Developers


  • Construction
  • Engineering
  • Environmental
  • Permitting
  • Water
  • Water Resources


  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The Quaker Oats production facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa is situated just north of downtown Cedar Rapids on the east bank of the Cedar River. Like many other businesses in the City of Cedar Rapids Quaker Oats was directly impacted by the Flood of 2008. Rising flood waters overtopped the existing flood protection and inundated the entire property causing significant damage and halting production. HR Green was retained to complete a Flood Protection Study, preliminary and final plans, permitting, construction administration, and construction oversight.

After reviewing existing information and meeting with Quaker Oats, the HR Green design team established the following goals for the Flood Protection Study:

  1. Review the existing on-site flood protection and available survey and hydraulic modeling information.
  2. Recommend a minimum protection water surface evaluation.
  3. Develop alternative designs to meet the minimum protection elevation.
  4. Develop alternative aesthetic treatments for the flood protection alternative.
  5. Recommend both a flood protection and aesthetic treatment alternative for design development and implementation.
  6. Recommend a phased approach to the construction and implementation of the selected alternative combination.

The existing hydraulic models, existing flood mapping and reports, the 2008 flood extents and site specific data were analyzed to determine water surface elevations at the Quaker Oats facility for various flood events. HR Green modified the existing HEC-RAS computer model as part of a previous project. The modifications account for the increased floodplain width and discharge observed in the Flood of 2008. The flood waters encountered obstructions not predicted by the previous model. The results of this model were used in the study evaluation.

Levee certification regulations established by FEMA were also researched and considered. Based on the collection of information, a flood protection elevation equal to the 100-year return period water surface elevation plus three additional feet was recommended as a minimum protection. Three alternatives, some with optional elements, were presented to protect the site to the 100-year plus three-foot elevation.

Three aesthetic treatments were presented to enhance the flood protection structure and improve the appearance of the facility from the river as well as from within the facility. The project required Section 404 clearance from the Corps of Engineers, approval from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and compliance with various City Permits. The project was initiated and construction was completed in 2011. HR Green provided all design, permitting, construction administration, and construction oversight services for the delivery of the project.

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