June 18, 2012

Founding Fathers’ Foresight

As long as Des Moines Water Works has been in existence, protecting the water resources from pollution and assuring an adequate supply of water well into the future has been utmost importance.  Thanks to the utility’s founding fathers – not to mention employees throughout the years – the growth of Des Moines Water Works has kept pace with the expanding needs of the community.

In 1884, the company began constructing an infiltration gallery system that would use groundwater from the Raccoon River.  The infiltration gallery was the only water source at the time.

By 1919, the water supply grounds covered approximately 470 acres.

In 1925, when the Board of Water Works Trustees purchased 334 acres of land south of the Raccoon River, west of S.W. 30th Street, General Manager Charles Denman stated that the newly acquired land  would insure a potential water supply large enough for a city twice the size of Des Moines.

Gradually, additional land (now known as Water Works Park) bordering the Raccoon River on both sides, extending to 63rd Street (city limits) was purchased to protect the source water and to extend the infiltration gallery.

In April of 1933, Water Works Park was opened to the public.  At that time, the water supply grounds covered 1,400 acres.  (Today, it spans 1,500 acres.)

Foreseeing a need for an emergency source of water, construction of a water storage reservoir near the Raccoon River southwest of Commerce began in 1943 (Maffitt Reservoir).  Dale Maffitt, General Manager, was quoted in the Des Moines Tribune as saying it will insure an adequate water supply for Des Moines for many years to come.

Obviously, planning for the future didn’t end in the 1940s.  Within the last 12 years, two additional water treatment facilities have been constructed.  The L. D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir began operation in 2000.  Today, this water plant serves customers in southwest Des Moines, parts of Xenia and Warren Water Systems, Waukee and parts of Clive, Urbandale and West Des Moines.  The Saylorville Water Treatment Plant went online in 2011 serving customers north of Des Moines.  Long-range plans have been developed, future demand has been projected, and staff continues to prepare for the future, assuring there will be an adequate supply of water.

Posted by: Pat Ripley No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, History, Infrastructure, Maffitt Reservoir, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant, Source Water, Water Quality

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