Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project

Upper Bee Branch Greenway Aerial


waiting out a tornado warning with your family in the safety of your basement when, suddenly, heavy rains produce flash flooding and water starts pouring into the basement around you. Do you stay in the basement at the risk of electrocution, fire, or drowning? Or go upstairs and risk the tornado? Bee Branch residents have faced this difficult decision.

The Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project is a multi-phased, fiscally responsible investment to mitigate flash flooding, improve water quality, stimulate investment, and enhance the quality of life within the Bee Branch Watershed.

W. Locust St.

Flash Flooding in the Bee Branch Watershed

A watershed is an area of land that drains to the same place. Dubuque’s 6.5 square mile Bee Branch Watershed drains to the Bee Branch Creek and is located entirely within the city limits. This watershed area includes the city’s most developed areas where over 50% of Dubuque residents either live or work. The watershed encompasses historic neighborhoods offering some of the community’s most affordable workforce housing. This area is also hit hardest by flash flooding during significant rain events with much more than “just a little water in the basement.”

Too frequently, it is flooding that inundates water heaters, furnaces, and electrical boxes, and can cause fires. It rushes down streets from curb to curb -- stalling vehicles, stranding motorists, displacing manhole covers, and damaging pavement, water mains, and stormwater and sanitary sewers.

Multi-Faceted Approach

Mayor Roy D. Buol and the Dubuque City Council have made infrastructure projects a high priority and they are committed to the Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project, a multi-faceted approach to addressing the severe and frequent flash flooding experienced in the watershed.

This project consists of several infrastructure improvements that will reduce the volume of stormwater, slow the rate of stormwater through the upper watershed, increase the safe conveyance of stormwater through the flood-prone area, and provide floodwater protection to the City’s water treatment plant on Hawthorne Street.


In December 2013, the project was awarded $98.5 million from the Iowa Flood Mitigation Board in the form of state sales tax increment financing spread over the next 20 years. This is the largest amount ever awarded to the City of Dubuque and will enable the City to issue debt to implement the comprehensive flood mitigation plan much sooner than previously anticipated at a lower cost to Dubuque citizens and businesses.

In January 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the City of Dubuque $31.5 million in disaster resiliency funds for the Bee Branch Healthy Homes Resiliency Program and stormwater infrastructure improvements. When combined with other state and federal grants and local donations, the City has received $163 million to help fund the $249.6 million project. Additional funding sources are being explored.

Stay Connected

To receive email and/or text updates on this project, please visit our Notify Me page and choose the Bee Branch Watershed Project category.

Contact Us

  1. Kristin Hill  |  email
    Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project
    Communications Specialist
    Phone: 563.690.6068

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