Adapting to Weather Extremes: the Economic Impact in Iowa

HyVee Hall, Des Moines, IA
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Drought Field to Flood Road

Over the past few years Iowa has been experiencing swings from one weather extreme to another (severe storms, floods and drought). These extreme fluctuations are expensive and are negatively affecting Iowa agriculture, businesses, government and people.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
Session Details Speakers
8:00 AM Continental Breakfast and Registration
8:55 AM Welcome Remarks
  1. Peter Damiano
  2. Bruce Rastetter
9:15 AM Keynote: Changes in Severe Weather Patterns, Economic Impacts
  1. Chris Anderson
9:45 AM Presentations on Natural Resource Management Issues
  1. Chuck Gipp
  2. Tim Hall
  3. Aaron Strong
  4. Bill Stowe
  1. Jonathon Carlson (Moderator)
11:00 AM Networking Break
11:15 AM Presentations on Agricultural Issues
  1. Bill Northey
  2. Rick Cruse
  3. Jacqueline Comito, PhD
  4. David Miller
  1. Peter Damiano (Moderator)
12:30 PM Lunch and Presentation: Challenges to our Economy from Insurance Industry Managing Additional Risk
  1. Nick Gerhart
1:30 PM Anticipating Economic Impacts of the 2012 Drought in Iowa
  1. David Swenson
2:00 PM Presentations on Infrastructure Issues
  1. Paul Trombino, III
  2. Dee Brown
  3. Larry Weber
  4. Mark Schouten
  1. Paul Hanley (Moderator)
3:15 PM Break
3:30 PM Policy Development
  1. Daniel Kelley
  2. Jack Hatch
  3. T.M. Franklin Cownie
  4. Brenda Nations
  1. Joe Bolkcom (Moderator)
4:45 PM Wrap Up
  • Chris Anderson

    Assistant Director, ISU Climate Science Program, Iowa State University

    Christopher J. Anderson is a climate risk analyst.  He is Assistant Director of the Iowa State University Climate Science Initiative, a research program that provides authoritative, scientific information for short-term and long-term climate-informed decision-making.  He holds doctoral and master degrees in agricultural meteorology from Iowa State University.


    Mr. Anderson’s research examines linkages between climate variability, climate change, and water management.  He has coauthored recent reports for the Western Utility Climate Alliance and US EPA containing recommendations on investments in climate modeling that would yield improvements in infrastructure planning for water utilities in major metropolitan areas (Options for Improving Climate Modeling to Assist Water Utility Planning for Climate Change) and flood mitigation in the Midwest United States (Iowa Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Report).  Currently, he is providing leadership to the Federal Highways Climate Resilience Pilot in Iowa in collaboration with Iowa DOT and University of Iowa IIHR.


  • Dee Brown

    Director of Energy Delivery Operations Support, Alliant Energy

    Dee Brown is the Director of Alliant Energy’s Energy Delivery Operations Support. Ms. Brown is responsible for leading the company’s Project Management – Large Construction projects, Field Engineering Processes, Gas Distribution – Metering and Regulation, Contract Management, Vegetation Management, Fleet, and Electric Metering. Her teams provide critical support to maintaining the integrity of the company’s electric and natural gas distribution infrastructure for the one million electric and natural gas customers served in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Ms. Brown has been with Alliant Energy since 1998. During her tenure, she has worked in a number of areas, including Account Management, Customer Service Operations and Distribution Asset Care. An Iowa native, Ms. Brown is a graduate of Buena Vista University. She is also involved in a number of organizations, which includes her service as a Board of Director for the Junior Achievement of East Central Iowa.


    The title of Ms. Brown's presentation is:  "Recovery and Beyond."

  • Jacqueline Comito, PhD

    Program Manager, Iowa Learning Farms; Director, Water Rocks!

    Through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Dr. Jacqueline Comito heads several water quality and conservation initiatives. Comito, an anthropologist, was award a 2012 Dupont Pioneer Iowa Women of Innovation Award. She was recognized for her accomplishments and leadership in raising environmental and water literacy including: creation of "Water Rocks!," a statewide campaign that educates K-12 students about water; researching, writing and publishing the book "Water Quality Matters To Us All"; managing the Iowa Learning Farms program and producing the Culture of Conservation video series, which includes "Troubled Waters" and "Out to the Lakes." Both films have earned Iowa Motion Picture Association honors for documentary and educational production. Comito says that emotions and personal choices have as much of an impact on how people treat our soil and water, as do knowledge and economics. Her work aims to bring awareness, and ultimately, change our attitudes and behaviors toward water quality. Comito holds a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.


    The title of Dr. Comito's presentation is: "Visionaries or Bureaucrats?: Soil and Water Conservation Districts Capacity to Respond to a World with Extreme Weather Events"

  • T.M. Franklin Cownie

    Mayor, City of Des Moines

    Mayor T.M. Franklin Cownie was elected to an at-large council seat in January 2002. He was then elected to the mayor’s seat in January 2004 and re-elected in January 2008, winning 80 percent of the votes cast. Mayor Cownie has spent much of his time in leadership roles on the national and international stage representing issues that he is most passionate about:  local control, green initiatives, jobs, and the economy. Most recently, Mayor Cownie was selected to serve on President Obama’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. In September 2013, he attended the World Mayors Summit on Climate Change in Nantes, France where he was invited to participate as a local government panelist. Mayor Cownie has also been invited to the White House on several occasions to share the local government perspective on jobs, the economy, and the environment. He works extensively with the US Conference of Mayors, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA, Mayors Innovation Project, and many others. 


  • Rick Cruse

    Professor of Agronomy, Director, Iowa Water Center, Iowa State University

    Richard M. Cruse is a professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University and Director of the Iowa Water Center.  He received his BS degree from Iowa State University and his MS and PhD degrees from the University of Minnesota.  He was appointed to the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council by the Iowa Governor’s office from 2008 – 2010 and coauthored a report to the governor and general assembly titled Climate Change Impacts on Iowa 2010.  Cruse led the research team that developed the Iowa Daily Erosion Project and is co-leading the effort to take the Iowa Daily Erosion Project to bordering states.  He is an adjunct professor of the Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and of the Northeast Forest University, both in Harbin, China.  He received the Distinguished Professor award from the Gyongyos College of Economics, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences–St. Istvans University, Gyongyos, Hungary.  He has authored or coauthored 87 refereed scientific papers, 28 non refereed technical publications, and 11 book chapters.  He has delivered 20 invited presentations since 2011 including three keynotes to state, national and international audiences. Richard M. Cruse is a professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University and Director of the Iowa Water Center. He received his BS degree from Iowa State University and his MS and PhD degrees from the University of Minnesota. He has served on the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology for the EPA from 2007-2009. Dr. Cruse was appointed to the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council by the Iowa Governor’s office from 2008 – 2010 and coauthored a report to the governor and general assembly titled Climate Change Impacts on Iowa 2010. He is an adjunct professor of the Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and of the Northeast Forest University, both in Harbin, China. Dr. Cruse has authored or coauthored 87 refereed scientific papers, 28 non refereed technical publications, and 11 book chapters.

  • Peter Damiano

    Director, Public Policy Center

    Peter Damiano is the Director of the Public Policy Center (PPC) and Bernstein Professor, Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the University of Iowa. He started the health policy research program at the PPC in 1990 and has been Director of the Center since July 2007. He is a health services researcher who investigates issues relating to access to care, quality, cost and outcomes of care. Dr. Damiano has authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and research monographs and has been the principal investigator on over 50 research studies funded by federal, state and Foundation sources. He is a former staff intern in the US Senate, a Robert Wood Johnson Dental Health Services Research Scholar and HRSA Primary Care Policy Fellow. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa College of Dentistry (DDS) and UCLA School of Public Health (MPH).

  • Nick Gerhart

    Insurance Commissioner of the State of Iowa

    Iowa Governor Terry Branstad appointed Nick Gerhart to serve as Insurance Commissioner of the State of Iowa succeeding Commissioner Susan Voss.  Nick began his role on February 1, 2013.


    Prior to being appointed Insurance Commissioner Nick worked for Sammons Financial Group as the Vice President of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs.  Nick is active in the Des Moines community and serves on numerous civic boards.  He earned his law degree and health law certificate from St. Louis University School of Law and a Masters of Health Administration from St. Louis University School of Public Health.  He earned his BA from the University of Northern Iowa.


    Nick and his wife Jessica reside in Des Moines, Iowa with their three children. 

  • Chuck Gipp

    Director, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

    Chuck Gipp was born and raised on a diversified farming operation near Decorah, Iowa.  After graduating from Decorah High School, he graduated with a BA Degree from Luther College.  Upon graduation, he returned home to become a managing partner in A-G Swiss Farms, Inc. with two of his brothers where they specialized in breeding and milking registered Brown Swiss Dairy cattle until the fall of 2002.


    In 1990, Gipp was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives where he served for nine consecutive terms.  During his legislative tenure, he served as an Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Whip and Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  In 2002 and again in 2004, he was elected to the position of House Majority Leader.


    After deciding not to seek re-election, Gipp was hired by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, as Director of the Division of Soil Conservation in July of 2008.  He served in that role for three years.  The Division is responsible for administering state programs and providing leadership to farmers and landowners to promote the protection and management of soil, water and mineral resources.


    August 5, 2011, Gipp accepted the invitation of Governor Branstad to become the Deputy Director of Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Finally, as of May 25, 2012, Gipp accepted the request by Governor Branstad to fill the position as Director of DNR.


    Gipp continues to reside in Decorah, Iowa with his wife Ranae and makes the weekly commute to Des Moines.

  • Tim Hall

    Chief of the Geological & Water Survey Bureau/Hydrology Coordinator, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

    Tim Hall is the Chief of the Iowa Geological and Water Survey Bureau for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  He has served in that role for the past 11 years.  During that time his bureau has included water quality monitoring, geology, watershed improvement, GIS, underground storage tanks, and contaminated sites.  Over the past two years Tim has led the DNR’s efforts in drought information, and serves as the Hydrology Coordinator for the Iowa DNR and leads the interagency Hydrology Work Group.

    Tim received his bachelors and masters degrees in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech, and has his professional engineer’s registration in Iowa.  Prior to joining the DNR he worked for several engineering consulting companies in central Iowa and was involved with solid waste and other environmental engineering projects in Iowa.

  • Jack Hatch

    Senator, State of Iowa, District 33

    Jack Hatch was elected in 2010 to his third term in the Iowa Senate. He represents central and south Des Moines, which includes some of the highest and lowest income families in the state.  Jack served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1985 to 1993. In 1993, he accepted the position of State Director with U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. He returned to the Iowa House after winning election in November of 2000.  Senator Hatch is chair of the Human Services Budget Subcommittee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Commerce, Economic Growth, Human Resources and Labor & Business Relations committees.


    Jack is committed to affordable, quality health care for all Iowans. Since 2007, he has led the Legislature’s comprehensive health care reform effort, including a commitment to health care coverage for all Iowa children by 2011. As a result, Iowa should have the highest percentage of children covered of any state in the county. He has also helped create the Community Health Center Incubator Program and the Iowa Collaborative Safety Net Provider Network.


    In June of 2009, Jack was appointed chair of the White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform. In that capacity, he has led state legislators who are health reform experts from around the country in advising the President on national proposals for health reform.  Jack has received several awards for his work in championing children’s issues. In 2005, Orchard Place, a statewide child and family counseling agency, and the Coalition for Family & Children’s Services in Iowa both awarded Jack the Outstanding Legislator Award for his work on child welfare initiatives.


    Jack graduated from Drake University in 1972 with a BA degree and in 1973 with a Masters in Public Administration. In 1997, Jack founded the Hatch Development Group, a real estate development firm. In 2008, HDG expanded to Cedar Rapids.


  • Daniel Kelley

    Representative, Iowa State House District 29

    Dan Kelley is serving his 2nd term in the Iowa House of Representatives. He is the Ranking member of the Administration and Regulation Appropriations Budget Subcommittee. He also serves on the Ways & Means, Agriculture, Environmental Protection, and International Relations Committees. He is a member of the NCEL, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, and the Iowa Parks Foundation Trust Board. He was a CSG Bowhay Legislative Leadership Development Scholar in 2011 and a 2012 CSG Henry Tolls Fellow.

    Dan is a long time resident of Jasper County. He is a 1989 graduate of Newton High School and a Fred Maytag Scholar. He graduated with honors from the University of Iowa in 1993 with a BA in Communication Studies. Soon after, he returned to Newton to establish a small business and begin his real estate career. Dan also owns and operates a mobile DJ service.

    Dan has led many Boards and Commissions in his district. In 2007 he served as President of the Newton Board of REALTORs. He has also served on the boards of the Newton Chamber of Commerce, the Newton Housing and Development Corporation, the Newton YMCA, Relay for Life of Jasper County Board, and the Newton Alumni Board. He assisted in the establishment of the ACES Teen Center through the Newton YMCA, and founded the H.A. “Pop” Lynn Scholarship Fund. Dan also serves as a Newton Parks Commissioner.

  • David Miller

    Director of Research and Commodity Services, Iowa Farm Bureau Chief Science Officer, AgraGate Climate Credits Corporation

    As director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, David Miller coordinates the research programs of the Iowa Farm Bureau and the various commodity services offered by the Federation. He provides economic analysis of agricultural issues, and is a primary liaison for the Federation with state and national commodity organizations. As the Chief Science Officer for AgraGate, Mr. Miller oversees the technical aspects of the carbon credit aggregation program. He serves on several carbon committees, including the Offset Committee of the Chicago Climate Exchange, The Midwest Governor’s Association Greenhouse Gas Accord committee, and the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council. Prior to working for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Mr. Miller served as a commodity policy specialist for the American Farm Bureau.

  • Brenda Nations

    Environmental Coordinator, City of Iowa City

    Brenda Nations has been the Environmental Coordinator for Iowa City since 2009. Her job focuses on environmental and sustainability issues facing the City. She has coordinated energy audits of the City’s buildings, calculates community-wide and municipal greenhouse gas emissions, manages City-owned native ecosystems and has just completed Iowa City’s a community-wide sustainability assessment.

  • Bill Northey

    Secretary, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

    Bill Northey is a fourth generation farmer from Spirit Lake, Iowa who grows corn and soybeans.  Northey returned to Spirit Lake to farm with his grandfather after graduating from Iowa State University in 1981.  He is serving his second term as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture after being reelected in November of 2010.

    As Secretary, Northey has committed to traveling to each of Iowa’s 99 counties every year to hear from farmers and rural residents with a stake in the future of agriculture.  These meetings allow him to listen to their needs and better lead the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship as it seeks to serve the people of the state.  His priorities as Secretary of Agriculture are advancing science and new technologies to better care for our air, soil and water and reaching out to all Iowans to tell the story of Iowa agriculture.  More information is available at

  • Bruce Rastetter

    President, Board of Regents, State of Iowa

    Bruce Rastetter is a lifelong Iowan committed to making a difference in our state. He is a successful entrepreneur of agriculture and energy-related companies as well as a community leader dedicated to improve the quality and affordability of higher education in Iowa.

    He learned the value of hard work and education growing up on his 300-acre family farm outside of Iowa Falls; later attending Ellsworth Community College and the University of Iowa. After graduating he returned to his roots to start his own feed management business. The success of the business led him to additional start-ups — a building construction entity and a swine production operation — later merging the three businesses into Heartland Pork Enterprises. He guided Heartland’s acquisition by Christensen Farms to become the 4th largest U.S. pork producer.

    A true entrepreneur, Bruce co-founded Hawkeye Energy Holdings in 2003; which grew to become one of America’s largest pure-play ethanol producers. He served as CEO until 2011.

    Today, Bruce serves as CEO of the Summit Group, a leader in agribusiness, production agriculture, renewable energy and international development. The organization includes Summit Farms, headquartered in northern Iowa. The operation includes extensive grain and meat production while maintaining a strong environmental commitment with thousands of acres of conservation land.

    Bruce is an active philanthropist and community leader supporting efforts focused on education and entrepreneurship. He is the president of the Iowa Board of Regents and serves on the board of directors for Hawkeye Energy Holdings, Advanced Bioenergy, and Growth Energy.

  • Mark Schouten

    Director, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management

    Governor Terry E. Branstad appointed Mark Schouten in November 2011 to serve as administrator of the then Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division. Schouten became the director of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department on July 1, 2013.

    Schouten previously served as the director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. He was appointed to that position by Gov. Branstad in January 2011.


    Schouten served in the Iowa Attorney General’s Office for five years, where he worked as the head of its transportation division and as a member of the area prosecution division where he prosecuted Medicaid fraud. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Schouten served as an assistant ethics counsel for the Iowa Supreme Court’s Iowa Board of Professional Ethics and as the Sioux County attorney and as a private practice attorney for 20 years.

    As a county attorney Schouten served as a member of the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council and as chairman of the County Attorneys Association’s technology committee. He taught trial advocacy at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, S.C., and was a governor’s appointee to the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission from 1996-2004.

    Schouten received a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Iowa State University and graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law.

    Mark and his wife Carrie live in Norwalk.


  • Bill Stowe

    CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works

    Bill Stowe is the CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works (DMWW). DMWW is a regional utility that protects public health and promotes economic development by delivering outstanding quality water affordably in reliable quantities. DMWW works closely with business, environmental, consumer and agricultural leaders to advocate for better stewardship of water resources and clean water initiatives throughout Central Iowa.

    Bill is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Grinnell College with a Bachelor of Arts, and received a Master of Science in Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, a Master of Science in Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois, and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Loyola University Law School. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a member of the Iowa Bar Association. He frequently acts through the American Arbitration Association as an impartial arbitrator in resolving complex construction and commercial disputes.

  • Aaron Strong

    Aaron Strong grew up in Marion, Iowa and graduated from Linn-Mar High School and later Luther College.  He completed two master’s degrees and a PhD in economics at the University of Colorado – Boulder.  He has held positions at the University of Calgary, Arizona State University and the University of Wyoming.  Currently he is an assistant professor with joint appointments in the School of Urban and Regional Planning and the Public Policy center and also a faculty affiliate of IIHR – Hydroscience and Engineering and the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Iowa.

    Dr. Strong’s research covers a wide variety of topics including water demand estimation; cost effectiveness of demand side management programs; ecological-economic modeling of rangelands; valuation of natural resources; and the relationship between economic growth and the environment.  Most recently, he is considering the effects of changes in surface water quality on the source of municipal drinking water; how changes in precipitation and land use/land cover changes affect the distribution of stream discharge; and understanding the recovery process from large scale natural and human induced disasters.


    The title of Dr. Strong's presentation is:  "Interactions between Quality and Quantity."



  • David Swenson

    Associate Scientist, Department of Economics Iowa State University

    David Swenson is an Associate Scientist in the Economics Department at Iowa State University. He is also an adjunct lecturer and a member of the graduate faculty in the Community and Regional Planning program at ISU, as well as in the graduate program in Urban and Regional Planning at The University of Iowa. Mr. Swenson’s work centers on community economic analysis and affiliated projects in support of ISU's community development efforts. He also works to extend economics education services to the public. Areas of research and specialization include community and regional industrial studies and evaluations, economic development research and technical assistance, input‐output (economic impact) studies, fiscal impact research, public finance and tax policy analysis, community change and worker mobility issues, and public program and project evaluation. Mr. Swenson is currently working on statewide, regional, and national evaluations of the rural development value of biofuels, renewable energy sources, and local foods production.

  • Paul Trombino, III

    Director, Iowa Department of Transportation

    Paul Trombino was appointed director of the Iowa Department of Transportation May 9, 2011, and confirmed by the Iowa Senate June 28, 2011.  As Director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, Trombino is responsible for the planning, design, construction, and operations of 9,400 miles of highways, 4,300 bridges; the modal programs of transit, rail, air, and enhancements; motor vehicle services which includes driver and vehicle services; and motor carrier services and enforcement.  The agency is comprised of 3,000 employees and expends $1 billion in transportation investments annually. 

    Trombino is the 2013-2014 President of Mid America Association of Transportation Officials (MAASTO); serves as Chair of the AASHTO National Subcommittee on Transportation Communication and Special Executive Committee for the 100th Anniversary of AASHTO; is a member of AASHTO Executive Committee; is a member of the Transportation Research Board Executive Committee; is a committee member on the Transportation Research Board-State Highway Research Projects (SHRP2) Oversight Committee, and is active in the State Strategic Transportation Initiatives (SSTI) group.

    Prior to this position, Trombino worked at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) for 17 years. At WisDOT he held several positions, serving as regional operations director of the highway division; director of the bureau of transit, local roads, rails and harbors; director of the bureau of statewide structures; and manager of highway bid lettings. Prior to joining WisDOT, Trombino spent four years in the finance and banking industry in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

    Trombino holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a licensed professional engineer in the states of Iowa and Wisconsin.

  • Larry Weber

    Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iowa, Edwin B. Green Chair in Hydraulics, College of Engineering, University of Iowa, Director, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, University of Iowa

    Larry Weber is an expert in flood-related research, watershed modeling and nutrient management.  In 2009, he was co-founder of the Iowa Flood Center, the nation’s first and only research center devoted solely to flood-related research and education.  In 2013, he worked with the Iowa Legislature and Iowa State University to found the Iowa Nutrient Research Center to advance science and understanding needed to implement the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  Dr. Weber holds a B.S, M.S., and PhD. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, all from the University of Iowa. For the last eleven years, he has been the Director of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, one of the nation's premier and oldest fluids-related research and engineering laboratories.  He is a member of Iowa’s Water Resources Coordinating Council and serves the state and nation on several private sector and agency advisory boards.

This symposium is sponsored by the University of Iowa Public Policy Center's Forkenbrock Series on Public Policy, with support from the Iowa Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), and co-sponsored by the University of Iowa Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research (CGRER), University of Iowa Hydroscience and Engineering (IIHR), the University of Iowa School of Urban and Regional Planning, the Iowa Water Center, and the Iowa State University Climate Science Program.





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