February 9, 2022 – Ames, IA- Chris Rehmann, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at Iowa State University, was awarded $249,114 by the Water Resources Research Act Program National Competitive Grants Program. His three-year research project, titled “Pathways to exposure to pathogens during floods,” is coordinated by the Iowa Water Center on the Iowa State University campus. Rehmann matched this grant with $253,594 from partners and university support. The project will be led by Rehmann with Co-Investigators Kaoru Ikuma in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at Iowa State University, P. Ryan Jackson, and Pete Lenaker, both of the U.S. Geological Survey. 

The project will examine the number of contaminants found within water levels of areas that experience significant flooding. Rehmann will work to identify the contamination pathways during flood events, which can have disproportionate impacts on communities within an urban area. Rehmann will seek to address how municipalities can be made more resilient to flood-related public health threats. 

“We are interested in learning how the water quality in flooded areas recovers,” says Chris Rehmann. “We also want to identify conditions that lead various populations to be vulnerable to contamination from flooding.” 

Loíza, Puerto Rico; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Houston, Texas will be included in the study. These locations were chosen due to their proximity to municipal and agricultural sources of contamination and frequent flooding from the coast (Houston), a great lake (Milwaukee), as well as coastal and riverine areas (Loíza). In each of these cities, contamination can stem from wastewater treatment plants and sanitary sewers. 

“This research project addresses an emergent threat to public health as society is facing more extreme weather events,” says Hanna Bates, Assistant Director of the Iowa Water Center. “The results of this project will help guide large scale efforts to improve equity in water resource management.” 

The National Competitive Grant Program is focused on improving our nation’s water supply and availability. The Water Resources Research Institutes support the exploration of water impairments through innovative research to expand public knowledge. This national program seeks research projects that explore how land and water use connect, contaminants spread through water resources, as well as emergent water hazards in the United States. 


The Iowa Water Center: The Iowa Water Center is a federally funded organization, part of the National Institutes for Water Resources. Located on the Iowa State University campus, it is one of 54 institutes located throughout the United States and U.S territories. The purpose of the Iowa Water Center is to identify water-related research needs, provide outreach and education opportunities, and disseminate information about Iowa’s water resources to the public to form better policies and everyday practices.