Public Works Watershed Project Shines in National Spotlight

Easter Lake Watershed Project Progress

Press Release

Des Moines, Iowa — Monday, February 15, 2021 — Des Moines Public Works has been recognized as the winner of a 2021 National Environmental Achievement Award (NEAA) in the Watershed Collaboration category for its “Restoring Easter Lake” initiative. This annual award is presented to National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) member public clean water utilities that have made outstanding contributions to environmental protection, their communities, ratepayers, and the water sector.

"This award is representative of the incredible work being done by our Stormwater Division," Public Works Director Jonathan Gano said. "This was a large-scale collaboration to improve the water quality at Easter Lake, in which our department and partnering agencies had great measures of success."

The Easter Lake Watershed is a 6,380-acre watershed that drains to Easter Lake on Des Moines’ south side. This project was conducted by the City in partnership with the Polk County Conservation Board, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and involved several other agencies throughout the process.

“Over the years, increased nutrient loads and sediment diminished the water quality of Easter Lake,” Clean Water Program Administrator Patrick Beane said. “The water looked like chocolate milk due to poor water clarity, algal blooms, high sedimentation rates and low oxygen levels. The difference we’ve been able to make in a relatively short period of time are fantastic for the area and anyone who uses Easter Lake.”

The plan identified five goals to holistically improve the overall health of the entire watershed that included the following: 

  1. Improve water quality throughout the watershed by incorporating management practices and utilization of an information and education effort on water quality. 
  2. Reconnect Des Moines metro residents and visitors to the natural amenities of Easter Lake and its surroundings. 
  3. Educate the public about water quality and provide awareness of the Easter Lake Water Quality Management Plan. 
  4. Achieve a “Full Support” status for the aquatic life use in Easter Lake. 
  5. Maintain a “Full Support” status for the aesthetic use.  

The plan also included fishery improvements to Easter Lake that included a fish restock that reintroduced over 550,000 fish into the lake.

For more about the plan, the projects or the results, visit

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

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