The Bee Branch Watershed 


Did You Know? 

  • A watershed is an area of land that drains to the same place. The Bee Branch Watershed drains to the Bee Branch Creek.
  • The Bee Branch Watershed is approximately 6.5 square miles stretching from the Mississippi River west past John F. Kennedy Road, north to the Northwest Arterial, and south to West Fifth Street.
  • Over 50% of Dubuque residents either work or live in the watershed.
  • According to a 2009 FEMA study, 1,373 homes and businesses in the watershed are prone to flooding including 70 businesses. Those 70 businesses employ over 1,400 people and have more than $500 million in annual sales.
  • Flood disasters have repeatedly impacted residents and employees of the businesses within the watershed. Between 1999 and 2011, six Presidential Disaster Declarations were issued with total damage estimates of almost $70 million.
  • The flooding in the Bee Branch Watershed has had a major impact on public infrastructure and City services both within and outside the flood-impacted area. Direct public sector costs include emergency response activities, street and utility infrastructure repairs, and debris clean‐up and removal. The disruption of essential City services and street closures due to flooding and damage also has a negative economic impact on the entire community.
  • The Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project will prevent an estimated $582 million in damages over the 100-year design life of the project. 
  • From 2004 to 2009, commercial property values increased by 39% citywide in Dubuque, but they fell by 6% in the flood prone areas.
  • The project, especially the green alleys, will result in a significant reduction of runoffs of soils, fertilizers and road surface chemicals from the waterways. This will create positive environmental impacts downstream in the Mississippi.
  • All infrastructure projects, aside from protecting the water plant, must be complete to mitigate the flash flooding. By themselves the individual projects may provide some benefit, but flooding can be expected to occur until all improvements are implemented.
  • "Daylighting" is the practice of restoring a stream that had been routed through a culvert back to its natural state. By taking the stream out of the concrete channel, daylighting allows for infiltration, and it improves downstream water quality by removing pollutants from the water.
  • The "Bee Branch" is identified on the US Geological Survey maps running along W. 32nd Street. At the W. 32nd Street Detention Basin, the creek enters into the storm sewer that has for many decades been referred to as the Bee Branch storm sewer. This storm sewer extended from W. 32nd Street down through the Couler Valley area and discharged into the pond near the former Dubuque Packing Company property on E. 16th Street. Prior to the early 1900’s, it is thought that Bee Branch Creek joined with the Couler Creek somewhere between what is now W. 30th Street and W. 32nd Street.