Stormwater Management


As soon as stormwater hits the ground, it either gets absorbed, or it flows directly into our local rivers, lakes, and streams. Too much stormwater can cause problems, such as flooding, erosion, and pollutant transport. The best place to manage stormwater is the spot on which it lands. 

The Stormwater Best Management Practices Rebate Program provides an incentive for property owners to install stormwater best management practices. These practices help enhance the water quality of stormwater runoff, decrease the amount of stormwater runoff that ends up in the storm drainage system, and repurpose the energy and nutrients of stormwater for healthier soils and landscaping. The City will reimburse property owners 50% of the total cost of their project, with a reimbursement limit of $2000, provided the project and property owner meets the requirements of the program.

If you have questions, email or call our Clean Water Team at 515-323-8165.

Qualifying work:

Rain Barrels

Installing a rain barrel is a relatively inexpensive process. The rain barrel connects to the downspout of any gutter system and collects rain water. This harvested rain water may be used for watering yards, tending to gardens or other household needs.

Where to use rain barrels: Connect rain barrels to downspouts on your house and garage. Rain barrels will typically capture 50 to 60 gallons. A small 8′ x 10′ area of roof will generate 50 gallons of water during a 1 inch of rain.

How you can use rainwater:

  • Water plants, gardens, and lawns
  • Rinse out recyclables before putting them in the recycle bin
  • Wash exterior fixtures like windows, mailboxes & dog houses

Price Range: $0-$100 per barrel

Learn More
Apply for Rebate

Rain Barrel
Rain barrel in backyard

Rain barrels in backyard

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens capture runoff from a variety of impervious surfaces in a depression or shallow bowl. Runoff captured by a rain garden is temporarily ponded, and is allowed to soak into the soil rather than running into storm drains. These features are suitable for yards and other small drainage areas where drain spouts can be redirected.  

What does a rain garden look like? Rain gardens are landscaping made of a shallow depression with a level bottom in which soils have been amended to better soak up water. They are planted with primarily native plants. Rain gardens can take many shapes and forms allowing you the creativity to create beautiful and wildlife friendly landscaping that serves a purpose you can feel good about.

Where do you use a rain garden? Rain gardens are placed in areas that capture water such as the end of a downspout or low spot in a yard. As the water reaches the rain garden, it is temporarily ponded until it fully soaks into the ground within a few hours. Rain gardens must be placed at least 10 feet away from a foundation and sized properly for the amount of water they are capturing.

Price Range: Varies depending on size and whether they are DIY or contractor built

Learn More
Apply for Rebate

Rain Garden Installed photo
Completed Rain Garden

Rain Garden in front of a Des Moines residence

Soil Quality Restoration


Healthy soil is the key to reducing polluted runoff. As buildings and houses are built, topsoil is generally removed and the remaining subsoil is compacted by grading and construction activities. Property owners are left with compacted and high clay content soils with little to no topsoil or organic matter leading to problems such as:

  • Ponding & Drainage Issues
  • Brown & patchy lawns
  • "Squishy" lawn after a rain that won't seem to dry
  • Constant need for watering

Soil quality restoration minimizes these problems by reducing compaction through deep aeration or tillage and increases organic matter content by adding quality topsoil or compost. This process helps soil become more sponge-like enabling it to soak up rainfall, and provides your lawn with the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Soil quality restoration is an environmentally friendly way to improve your lawn health minimizing the need for fertilizers and excess watering.

Soil quality restoration should be applied to lawns in spring (March-May) or in fall (late August-November).

Price Range: About $.22 per square foot of lawn

Learn More
Apply for Rebate

Before Soil Quality Restoration
After Soil Quality Restoration

Native Landscaping

Native Landscaping is the incorporation of native plants into urban landscapes that mimic the natural prairie. Native landscaping promotes soil health, water absorption, and pollinator habitat. Whether it replaces existing turf grass or it fills in your flowering bed, this practice is flexible and obtainable for all yards. 
Benefits of native plants: 
  • Prairie plants benefit pollinators and birds by providing food sources
  • Prairie plants have deep roots that can help your soil absorb more water
  • Prairie plants are well adapted to Iowa weather meaning they can tolerate heavy rains and hot, dry summers.
  • Native plants can help improve water quality by minimizing stormwater runoff from your house.

If strategically placed native plants can increase your property’s ability to soak in and manage stormwater. Think of areas in your yard that are constantly wet or where water flows from one yard into another. By using native plants in these locations we can address drainage issues while providing landscaping or even a natural privacy fence.

Price Range: Varies depending on size and whether it is a DIY or contractor built project

Learn More
Apply for Rebate

Native Prairie Landscaping
Native Prairie Landscaping

Native Prairie Plants
Native Prairie Plants

Streambank Stabilization

Streambank stabilization is a process in which streambanks are reconstructed or armored to reduce streambank erosion and subsequent sediment flows. If your property contains a streambank, City employees will give a free site evaluation to see what can be done to stabilize it.

Price Range: Varies greatly based on size and scope of work

Learn More
Apply for Rebate

Before Streambank Stabilization Project Completed
Streambank Stabilization Project Finished

For those living outside the City of Des Moines, follow Polk Soil and Water Conservation District's #RainCampaign for information about stormwater management programs available across the metro area. Additional information can also be found through the Iowa Stormwater Education Partnership.

Why Should I Apply For The Program?

What Qualifying Work Is Best For My Yard?

How Do I Apply?

How Will I Be Paid?

Terms for Eligibility