The Dam Debate III, regional open houses announced for Water Trails Engineering Study

Four regional open houses and The Dam Debate III have been scheduled for Oct. 17-19 for the public to learn about the findings of the Water Trails Engineering Study and give feedback to the engineering teams.

The Water Trails Engineering Study is the first phase of implementation of the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Master Plan, a regional roadmap for developing a network of recreational corridors along 150 miles of rivers and creeks in central Iowa. While the master plan lays out a broad vision, the engineering study is examining the recommended projects more closely to determine their feasibility.

THE DAM DEBATE III will start with a short presentation to be followed by a panel discussion. The event will primarily focus on recommendations for mitigating the low-head dams on the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers in downtown Des Moines, although a brief overview of other regional projects will be provided.

12-1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, Des Moines Register Community Room, 400 Locust St., Des Moines.

REGIONAL OPEN HOUSES will be held throughout the metro, offering people a chance to learn about the concept and feasibility for recommended projects throughout the region. There is no formal presentation; information will be presented via poster boards. People are free to come and go at their convenience.

 5:30 – 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, Crown Point Community Center, 6300 Pioneer Pkwy., Johnston

7:30 – 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, the Lodge at Walnut Woods State Park, 3155 SE Walnut Woods Dr., West Des Moines

5:30 – 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, Riley Resource Group, 4400 E. University Ave., Pleasant Hill

5:30 – 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, Des Moines Register Community Room, 400 Locust St., Des Moines

The MPO has engaged the services of two teams to accomplish the Engineering Study. One team, ISG Engineering and Architecture, is working on the proposed projects throughout the region. The McLaughlin Whitewater Group, with local subcontractors RDG and HDR, will tackle the unique and challenging constraints of the water trail recommendations for downtown Des Moines.

The Water Trails Engineering Study is expected to be completed by early 2018. For more information, please visit, call 515-334-0075 or email

What are Water Trails?

“Water Trails” is a designation given by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and are defined as recreational corridors and routes on rivers and lakes that provide a unique experience for all water users. Water trails help re-connect Iowans to their waterways’ history, heritage, geology, fisheries, and wildlife. Water trails provide adequate access and can include amenities like riverside camping, wild spaces, picnic areas, and restrooms, and watercraft rentals provided by local, state, and federal partners. Coordinated signage and mapping systems guide users toward the types of experiences they seek, ranging from a highly social first-time river experience lasting a few hours to multi-day adventures. Water trails help boost local economies and give central Iowans outdoor experiences just out their back doors.

Engineering Study Funders

 The Water Trails Engineering Study was made possible by the support of the following organizations.

Leadership Circle of the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation – $205,000
Area jurisdictions – $196,000 – including Altoona, Ankeny, Bondurant, Carlisle, Clive, Des Moines, Grimes, Johnston, Mitchellville, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Polk County, Van Meter, and Warren County
Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau – $30,000
Greater Des Moines Partnership – $30,000
Polk County Conservation – $30,000
Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS – $16,500