September 10, 2018

Gallery ‘Flooding Station’ 100 Years Old

Des Moines Water Works Fleur Drive Treatment Plant has the option of three different sources of raw water. The first and best source is a shallow groundwater collection system called the Infiltration Gallery. The Gallery system is a three-mile long, porous pipe constructed with concrete rings. The gallery runs parallel to the Raccoon River in Water Works Park from SW 46th Street to Fleur Drive. It collects naturally-filtered water from the sand and gravel of the river valley. The concrete rings are four and five feet in diameter and two feet long and are held slightly apart so water can trickle into the pipe. The Gallery system at Des Moines Water Works dates back to 1884, when the first 260 feet was constructed. By 1910, over 6,000 feet of Gallery had been excavated and placed in service.

Prior to 1910, when Des Moines’ water supply was deficient, trenches were dug in nearby sandbars or whole surfaces of sandbars were cleaned off to allow them to flood at a shallow depth and augment the water supply to the Gallery. After Gallery extensions were made in 1910, “emergency filters” were also constructed to collect water for infiltration. Thus began the construction of the current ponds in Water Works Park to augment the water supply to the Gallery.

During the drought of 1916 and after, extremely low water levels were artificially increased using a temporary pumping station to pump water from the Raccoon River onto a low-lying area. About five million gallons per day (mgd) were pumped onto the ground to flood an area of about four acres. Since this worked so effectively at increasing water supplies in the Gallery, it was decided to build a permanent pumping station at this location in 1918. It was placed into service in February 1919, and contained two motor-driven centrifugal pumps that could each pump 5 mgd. Since it was originally used to flood the land, it became known as a ‘flooding station,’ not pumping station.

One interesting fact about the Gallery flooding station is who the architect was: Norman T. Vorse. Mr. Vorse was a well-known architect of the time. He designed many Des Moines landmarks, including Court Avenue Bridge, Des Moines Municipal Courthouse (now the home of Des Moines Police Department) and Hoyt-Sherman Auditorium.

The Infiltration Gallery provided all the water to the Des Moines area until 1949. Increased water demand required construction of an intake on the Raccoon River in 1949, and the drought of 1977 precipitated construction of an intake on the Des Moines River in 1980. Today, the Infiltration Gallery system provides the first 20 million gallons of water each day, and a century later, the flooding station is still in use.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Infrastructure, Source Water

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