Posts Tagged ‘Water Works Park’

October 2, 2018

Water Works Park Improvements

Construction of the first phase of Des Moines Water Works Park improvements is underway. The improvements include a two-way amphitheater, great lawn, celebration lawn, restrooms, a marketplace, natural play areas and outdoor classrooms, pathways, and parking. Improvements are expected to be completed by May 2019. The area will provide a platform for park users to engage in educational, recreational, and cultural activities. A passageway under Fleur Drive to safely connect Water Works Park to Gray’s Lake Park is planned for 2019.


In the coming months, park users can also expect a dedication of “The Wild,” a celebration of the over 1,400 acres of Water Works Park that will remain largely untouched. These areas will be enhanced with signage and virtual information tools that allow for more self-discovery and understanding the role Des Moines Water Works Park plays in both clean water production and the many ecosystems contained within.

The Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation has privately raised funds for the park improvements and do not come from Des Moines Water Works ratepayers. For more information on the planned Des Moines Water Works Park improvements, visit:

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Des Moines Water Works Park September 13, 2016

Water Works Park Plans and Progress

In 1925, 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 was purchased to protect the source water. In April of 1933, Water Works Park was opened to the public. At that time, the water supply grounds covered 1,400 acres. Today, Water Works Park now spans 1,500 acres.

In 2013, the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation was formed and charged with implementing the master plan for Water Works Park. The Park Foundation recently announced it has gone over the $5 million mark in pledges for the planned $9 million first phase of Water Works Park improvements.

It should be noted that the funds being raised to implement the master plan by the Foundation are from private sources and do not come from Des Moines Water Works ratepayers.

RDg_Waterworks_7 - skylineThe focus of the first phase is to create a destination platform for individuals’ and groups’ daily use and self-programming. The Park Foundation hopes to enhance Water Works Park users’ experience by developing a two-way amphitheater, the great lawn, a celebration lawn, natural play areas, and a series of pathways that lead to different experiences in and around the existing Arie den Boer Arboretum. The new elements are being designed to be both flood resilient and located on the highest ground in the park, which historically only floods during 100 year flood events.

The goal of the master plan is to introduce visitors to Water Works Park’s many assets through better wayfinding; support systems such as parking, bathrooms and food trucks; and safe connections to neighboring Gray’s Lake Park and the many regional trail systems. This will make Water Works Park more accessible for users across all spectrums of age, ability and interest – all while telling the history and importance of water in the greater Des Moines metro area.

“This plan offers something for everyone,” said Randy Reichardt, President of the Park Foundation Board. “It’s free, accessible and in the middle of the city. The project brings to life an under-utilized resource that will help elevate the quality of life for anyone who comes in contact with this amazing park.”

The Park Foundation believes that by enhancing the connectivity of this urban green space to the rest of the city, it encourages
activity and experiences for recreation and health, education and conservation, which serve as the guiding principles for the Park Foundation. Its proximity to Gray’s Lake, downtown Des Moines, and several neighborhoods expands usable urban green space for area workers and the growing number of downtown area residents, alleviating the overcrowding of adjoining 170-acre Gray’s Lake Park.

Water Works Park is owned and operated by Des Moines Water Works, and at 1,500 acres, it is one of the largest urban park in the country and about twice the size of New York City’s Central Park. The Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation is a separate entity, a Private Non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, charged with implementing the Water Works Park master plan through phasing, fundraising and enhanced programming to encourage more purposeful interaction with Water Works Park and the story of clean water.

For more information, visit Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation’s website: or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in Parks May 9, 2016

Natural Denitrification Wetland Pilot Project

During 2015, Des Moines Water Works operated the Nitrate Removal Facility for a record-setting 177 days, eclipsing the previous record of 106 days set in 1999. The Nitrate Removal Facility is used to reduce source water nitrate concentrations to below 10 mg/L, a level established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for our 500,000 central Iowa customers.

Des Moines Water Works has been working with a consultant to evaluate nitrate trends in the raw water sources. These trends indicate that nitrate concentrations will continually increase without regulation upstream, reaching levels where the existing Nitrate Removal Facility will be unable to provide sufficient removal to meet the EPA’s drinking water standards.

In an attempt to evaluate alternative nitrate removal technologies, Des Moines Water Works is constructing a pilot wetland in 2016. This pilot project will be a one acre surface flow wetland located in Water Works Park. The pilot will be used to test the efficiency of nitrate removal through natural processes. Testing of the pilot will help staff understand how a full scale wetland would react to changes in temperature and flood events, along with any other water quality concerns.

Pilot wetland under construction in Water Works Park

In late April, DMWW staff planted 20,000 cattails and bulrush plants in the pilot wetland area.

If successful, Des Moines Water Works will consider converting a large portion (up to 80-acres) of Water Works Park into constructed wetlands, with the goal of providing natural denitrification, and ultimately protecting the health of our customers.

The consultant is also recommending several nitrate removal measures, including expansion of the current ion exchange denitrification facility. The funds needed for nitrate mitigation in the recently announced five year capital improvement plan total $70 million. An additional $10 million will be needed beyond the five year outlook, for a total of $80 million in infrastructure investments in order to meet the safe drinking water standard for nitrate.


Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , Posted in Parks, Source Water, Water Quality November 23, 2015

Water Works Memorial Contributions

Fountain and purple flowersFishing in the ponds, picnicking under the Arie den Boer Arboretum crabapple blossoms, hiking in Denman Woods or horseback riding along the bridle trails – just as Water Works Park offers a perfect setting for a variety of activities, so too can it serve as a perfect gift for a variety of occasions.

A memorial gift to the urban forest within Water Works Park is a unique and thoughtful way to honor a loved one, celebrate weddings, anniversaries, graduations, or just to let someone know you’re thinking of them. Your tax-deductible gift will help maintain and sustain Water Works Park as one of America’s largest urban parks for the enjoyment of all – now and for future generations.

There are two categories of gifts to the urban forest within Water Works Park: Tribute Gift (in honor/memory of) and Donation Gift (general contribution). Tribute recipients or their families will receive a customized acknowledgment card, without reference to amount, to notify them of your gift. All donors and tribute recipients will be recognized on our website, unless you wish to remain anonymous.

Making a tribute or donation gift to Water Works Park is easy. Visit and use the online form or download a printable form to fill out and mail with contribution.  For additional information, please contact Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8702.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Parks May 19, 2015

LAUNCH Your Summer at Water Works Park

LAUNCH_logo_CMYKThe public is invited to LAUNCH, a new, annual and FREE event aimed at drawing new and current users into Water Works Park to explore its many recreational opportunities. Join us at Water Works Park on Saturday, May 30, from 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. for multiple activities that engage you in the park, including canoeing, an art installation on the river, music, food trucks and craft beer, bike trail expeditions, soccer clinics, hiking, bike valet and much more.

The event launches two major regional efforts celebrating our rivers: the launch of a regional water trails plan and the implementation of the Water Works Park Master Plan.

The event features a riverside unveiling of a new, temporary public art installation by New York-based artist Mary Mattingly that calls attention to the joy of reconnecting to our waterways. The featured speaker will be Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp at 1:00 p.m.

The event is sponsored by Scheels, MidAmerican Energy, and Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation. The public art work is sponsored by Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, the Iowa Arts Council and the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Visit for more details.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Parks May 12, 2015

Benefits from Water Works Park’s Urban Forest

Water Works ParkAlthough many of us know Water Works Park as a natural playground for people and animals, the Park’s primary mission is to serve as the first water source for Des Moines Water Works in meeting the drinking water needs of 500,000 central Iowans. To do that, Des Moines Water Works’ forefathers had the insight to acquire land upstream of the Raccoon River to protect its water source. Today, Des Moines Water Works staff maintains a large urban forest that makes up the 1,500 acres of Water Works Park.

Urban forests play an important role in supporting and improving the ecology in urban areas. A tree’s shade and beauty contributes to the community’s quality of life and softens the often hard appearance of streetscapes and urban landscapes. Public trees, when properly maintained, provide economic, environmental, and social benefits, including temperature moderation, reduction of air pollutants, energy conservation, and increased property values.

A recently completed inventory of the urban forest in Water Works Park is the first phase of a multi-year effort led by Tree Des Moines to assess the health of trees along capital city streets and parklands.

The recent assessment, conducted by Davey Resource Group, included trees, stumps and planting sites within the mowed and manicured areas of Water Works Park. Collectively, the trees included in the assessment have an appraised value of $6,227,597, and provide environmental benefits valued at nearly $370,000 a year.

“The results of the Water Works inventory show just how much value trees add to our city and neighborhoods,” said CJ Stephens, president of Tree Des Moines, a volunteer-driven nonprofit dedicated to protecting and expanding the urban forest. “This proves that every dollar we invest in our urban forest is money that comes back to us in so many critically important ways, both economic and environmental.”

The inventory outcomes are important, and implementation of the maintenance recommendations will enhance public safety and the benefits trees provide to the community.

The recently completed tree inventory is a key-planning tool that will help Des Moines Water Works establish a data-driven program for tree care, and aid in more accurately determining budget, staff, and equipment needs.

The partnership with Tree Des Moines also comes at a pivotal time for Water Works Park.

“Through Trees Des Moines’ leadership, Davey Resources performed a professionally assessed and digitized collection of data involving our Parks’ publically enjoyed trees,” Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager, said. “This asset inventory for a cornerstone of the Water Works Park is particularly timely given our interest in better managing all aspects of Water Works Park, and working with the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation in realizing the Master Plan to drive Water Works Parks’ future improvements.”

Tree inventories are about more than simply counting trees. As Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie points out.

“The City of Des Moines, along with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and environmental experts at Iowa State University, agree that a tree inventory is essential in moving forward with plan to maximize Des Moines’ tree resources through proper management,” said Cownie.

The assessments provide detailed information about species, health, and maintenance needs, among other information. A tree inventory is also needed to help Des Moines combat current threats to forestry health such as emerald ash borer, oak wilt and bur oak blight. Over the next few years, these threats are expected to significantly reduce Des Moines’ tree canopy, which carries implications for quality of life in the city’s neighborhoods.

“The Water Works Park inventory proves it is worthwhile to keep pushing ahead with plans to inventory city-owned trees in Des Moines,” Stephens said. “Trees are vital green infrastructure, and knowing more about what we have in Des Moines will help us do a much better job of managing the resources well into the future.”

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Environment, Green Initiatives, Parks September 30, 2014

Middle School Students, EPA Region 7 Administrator Talk Water Quality

DSC_0452EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks will be in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, Oct. 3, to visit with Brody Middle School seventh grade students about EPA’s role in protecting water quality. Brooks’ visit will include a role-play exercise featuring six groups of students representing EPA, scientists, farmers, concerned citizens, Des Moines Water Works, and non-profits. Afterwards, a group of students will participate in a water quality testing exercise at Des Moines Water Works Park.

Brooks will discuss the importance of EPA’s partnerships to protect water quality in Iowa, and the Waters of the U.S. proposal. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft proposal in March to strengthen protection for the clean water that is vital to all Americans.

The students are learning about Iowans’ water pollution reduction efforts, Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy, and best management agricultural practices to improve water quality.

Brody Middle School serves about 780 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students within the Des Moines Public School District.  Brody is an International Baccalaureate candidate school where learning is incorporated with an understanding of how individuals fit into the world and how their actions affect others.  Approximately 120 seventh graders have been learning about water quality at Brody.

The Des Moines metropolitan area’s 500,000 residents receive their drinking water from Des Moines Water Works, which draws water from the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. The quality of these rivers is fundamental to providing safe drinking water for the public health of the Des Moines community.

  • WHO: Karl Brooks, EPA Region 7 Administrator
  • WHAT: Remarks, role-play student exercise and students learning about water chemistry (all events are open to the press).
  • WHEN: Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., Brooks’ remarks and activity at Brody Middle School; 2:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., Water quality testing at Des Moines Water Works Park.
  • WHERE: Brody Middle School, 2501 Park Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50321 and Des Moines Water Works Park, 412 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, Iowa 50321. After entering the park, watch for signage to the pond.

Clean water is important for drinking, swimming, farming, fishing, businesses and communities.  Sixty percent of streams and millions of acres of wetlands across the country aren’t clearly protected from pollution and destruction. One in three Americans—117 million of us—get our drinking water from streams that are vulnerable.

To help celebrate October as Children’s Health Month, EPA works with parents, teachers, and health providers to promote environmental education and healthy environments for children. EPA recognizes the importance of educators’ in incorporating environmental education in their classrooms and teaching methods.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , , Posted in Source Water, Water Quality January 24, 2014

Changes in the Works: Public Open House for Water Works Park Master Plan

1Des Moines Water Works invites the public to see the changes in the works for one of the largest urban parks in the nation.  A public open house for the Water Works Park Master Plan will be held on January 29, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Des Moines Art Center, located at 4700 Grand Avenue in Des Moines. A brief presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Des Moines Water Works operates Water Works Park, a 1,500-acre urban park in the heart of Des Moines, and a major component of the city’s open space system and trail network. The park is also home to Arie den Boer Arboretum, one of the world’s largest collections of flowering crab apple trees. Water Works Park is bisected by the Raccoon River and a three mile long infiltration gallery, major sources of drinking water for the Des Moines metro area.

Des Moines Water Works, in collaboration with Iowa State University Department of Landscape Architecture, hosted an international design competition in 2011 to reinvent Water Works Park.  Sasaki Associates, with RDG Planning & Design and Applied Ecological Services, was selected as the design competition winner out of 44 proposals.  The Master Plan process included public outreach and community involvement.

“Finalizing and presenting the Master Plan is a significant step toward re-envisioning and renovating Water Works Park into an education and recreation destination,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “The Master Plan highlights opportunities for education and emphasizes the role water plays in the community, as well as incorporates additional recreational features throughout the park.”

Funding for the Master Plan was provided through generous community support. Grants and funds totaling $165,000 were received from the Allied Construction Services, Bankers Trust, CDS Global, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines Leadership Circle, Gray’s Lake Park & Meredith Trail Fund, Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, Merchants Bonding Company, Polk County and The Principal Financial Group.  Donations from private donors total an additional $35,000.

A Water Works Park foundation is being established to coordinate fundraising and implementation of the Master Plan. Implementation of the Master Plan could begin early in 2014.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Parks September 5, 2013

Water Works Park Bridle Trails

KIMG0230With the upcoming Water Works Park Open House on Tuesday, September 10, there is a lot of dreaming of what Water Works Park could offer to the community and visitors of Des Moines in the future.  One unique and often hidden treasure of Water Works Park available today are the beautiful bridle trails.

Des Moines Water Works boasts several miles of bridle trails on the north side of the Raccoon River in Water Works Park.  Avid and novice horsemen and women regularly visit the signed trails that wind throughout the park and the “Lost Planet” area.  Horseback riders will encounter several species of wildlife on their excursion through the park, including white-tail deer, red fox, coyotes, and bald eagles.  The trails are groomed and are accessible year-round.  Riders can gain access to the trails off of Edwards Street, which is south of Grand by the Valley Park Stables.


Posted by: Scott Atzen No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Parks August 28, 2013

Changes in the Works: Open House for Water Works Park Master Plan

1Des Moines Water Works, in collaboration with Sasaki Associates and RDG Planning & Design, invites the public to see the exciting changes in the works for one of the largest urban parks in the nation.  A public open house for the Water Works Park Master Plan will be held on September 10, 5:00-8:00 p.m., at Water Works Park’s event lawn (west end of the park off of George Flagg Parkway). Signs and volunteers will guide visitors to the site. Enjoy food, music and family-fun activities that will assist visitors to envision what’s on tap for Water Works Park.

The evening’s activities include paddleboarding and canoeing demonstrations, a water dance performance, a guided ecology bike tour, live music, fishing tips and tricks, and community eco-art projects for the whole family. See below for a complete list of activities and schedule. Enjoy free tacos from Tacopocalypse and free re-usable water bottles for the first 200 people. Your feedback on the park plan is the only request.

In the event of inclement weather, activities will be held at Des Moines Water Works’ general office building, located at 2201 George Flagg Parkway.

For the latest updates, visit For more information about the event, contact Teva Dawson at (515) 244-8590 or [email protected].

Water Works Park Master Plan Open House: September 10, 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Throughout the evening, from 5:00-8:00 p.m.

  • Enjoy free tacos from Tacopocalypse for the first 200 people.
  • Free re-usable water bottles for the first 200 people or bring your own re-usable water bottle and fill up at Des Moines Water Works’ mobile water station.
  • Live music.
  • Learn about Water Works Park’s future amenities and provide feedback on the plan.
  • View paddleboarding demonstrations by No Coast Stand Up.
  • Win a prize by participating in a scavenger hunt.
  • Share a picture of yourself next to a future park amenity in the photo booth and enter to win a prize if shared on the “Changes in the Works” Facebook site.
  • Learn tips and tricks for successful fishing by experts from Izaak Walton League.
  • Gain river paddling advice and demonstrations by Central Iowa Paddlers.
  • Hang with the horses from Irish Run Farms and learn about riding the bridle trails at Water Works Park.
  • Write your wish for the park and the river through the “wishing ribbons” eco-art project, hosted by Open Arts.
  • Participate in green arts activities, hosted by Metro Arts Alliance.
  • “Fish for Pollutants”  by using a fishing pole to see how many pollutants like dirt, trash, fertilizer, pet waste and pesticides you can “fish” out of the water.

6:00 p.m.

  • Water Dance – Paddleboarding dance performance by modern dance company, Hurley and Dancers.

6:15 p.m.

  • Guided Ecology Bike Tour – Learn about the watersheds, flood plain forest ecosystems and the restoration of disturbed areas, including the infamous “Lost Planet.” A limited number of B-cycle Bikes from the Bike Collective will be available for use.  Note: The trail is not strenuous, but participants will ride on asphalt, gravel and mowed grass.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone 6 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Parks