The forefathers of Des Moines Water Works did a tremendous job planning for and building the infrastructure of the utility to meet the water needs of the City of Des Moines and metro area prior to 1960. The planning effort has been regionally focused over the last 30 years. The implementation of these early planning efforts and a continued planning mindset to this day has produced water utility assets that serve the region very well. These past planning efforts serve to reinforce the importance of long range planning in the infrastructure intensive nature of the water utility business.
In planning for the water utility for the next 20 years, we must first estimate the water needs of the region for this future time period. The Water Works completed this planning effort in 2008 and 2009, which included analyzing customer water use trends coupled with population forecast for the region to produce forecasted total water needs. The results predicted there will be continuing water efficiency gains which will lower somewhat the overall per customer water use. All new home and business water use fixtures require less water today as a result of required efficiency improvements mandated by Federal Legislation in 1992. However, the Des Moines region is predicted to see continued modest growth in population and in business and industry such that overall water needs are estimated to increase slightly. It is important for Des Moines Water Works to plan for a slight increase in water needs in order to evaluate the adequacy of source water supplies, which can take many years to develop.
As one can imagine, a water utility must have sufficient source water supplies so as not to inhibit regional growth. Des Moines Water Works’ planning revealed that the current source supplies are very adequate for the next 20 years, except during a severe drought event that could require mandatory water use restrictions, such as limiting outdoor irrigation and other non-essential uses. With a greater awareness by most everyone of being “green” and more new construction striving to attain some form of LEED certification or at least following a more conservation ethic, DMWW’s source water supplies could well be adequate for the next 50 years.