Des Moines Helps Bridge Urban with Rural to Reduce Flooding, Clean Up Water 

BioreactorDES MOINES, IOWA – Thursday, April 30, 2020 –The City of Des Moines today lauded a series of public-private commitments totaling nearly $59 million to reduce flooding and improve water quality in the North Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds.  The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) recently awarded nearly $10 million to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and $9.8 million to the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) to help farmers and landowners expand conservation efforts, enhance soil health and improve water quality.

"Two initiatives with one goal in mind, to reduce the risk of flooding and improve water quality along the Des Moines and North Racoon Rivers,” said Jonathan Gano, public works director for the City of Des Moines.

The two federal grants, coupled with an additional $39 million in public-private partner contributions, brought the total for the two conservation initiatives to $58.8 million - $33 million for the IDALS program and $25.8 million for the ISA effort. Both will accelerate the adoption of conservation practices intended to improve water quality by reducing nutrients delivered to the two watersheds through runoff.

“Delivering results and value upstream on farms will also deliver downstream benefits.  Together we are better,” said Roger Wolf, ISA’s director of Innovation and Integrated Solutions. “We greatly appreciate working cooperatively with the City of Des Moines and all of the other partners on this project.”

As part of a 12-member coalition in the ISA partnership, the City of Des Moines committed $2 million in water quality projects in Des Moines while the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (DMMWRA) invested $3 million in streambank stabilization projects in the metro as a member of the 16-member IDALS partnership.

Gano called the efforts “a holistic and comprehensive approach to reducing flood risks,” and said that the City’s newly-formed partnerships with Iowa agriculture and conservation groups will focus resources and innovative approaches to farm fields in both the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds.  Efforts, he said, are vital for Des Moines which sits at the confluence of the two rivers and has seen increased flooding since 1993.

“The best place to manage a drop of water is to catch it where it lands which makes working with farmers and land owners a necessary part of our flood fighting toolbox,” Gano said. “In addition, if we keep rainwater on-site, we keep the nutrients there, too.”

Gano added that the collaborative efforts of the two coalitions allowed the City of Des Moines and DMMWRA to leverage modest investments in water quality locally into larger investments upstream – which led to the federal support through the two RCPP awards.

“One of the benefits beyond reduced flood risk is that as the state’s largest city, we are working with our ag partners to make two of Iowa’s rivers cleaner and safer,” he said.

This is the second and third RCPP the City has joined in the last four years, with new investments totaling over than $100 million.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig agreed that the bridging of urban and rural interests is key to success.

“Whether you live in the city or the country, our rivers and streams unite us all. And that means we all have a stake in helping to improve our water quality. When public and private partners work together and leverage our collective investments, we can have a much greater impact,” Naig said. “I want to thank the City of Des Moines and the Wastewater Reclamation Authority for providing additional resources to help scale-up conservation practices in the North Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds. Working together, we can reduce the impacts of flooding and improve water quality locally and downstream.”

Al Setka
Communications Manager, City Manager’s Office
(515) 283-4057

About the City of Des Moines
The City of Des Moines: Iowa’s capital city and local government servicing more than 217,000 residents, 51+ neighborhoods, over 4,000 acres of parkland and 81 miles of trails. The City of Des Moines stands to be a financially strong city with exceptional city services, fostering an involved community in a customer friendly atmosphere. Visit DSM.cityFacebook and Twitter for more information.