Water Trails Engineering Study

The Water Trails Engineering Study is the first phase of implementation of the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Master Plan, which was approved by unanimous vote of the MPO Policy Committee in November 2016.

While the master plan lays out a broad vision for developing a water trails network in Greater Des Moines, the Water Trails Engineering Study will examine list of recommended projects more closely. The engineering study will determine the feasibility of the recommended projects and provide estimated costs of those projects. With this information, local governments and funding partners can begin prioritizing projects and budgeting for the installation of these projects.

Public Engagement

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 DAM DEBATE III will start with 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 feasibility and concepts 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 Parkway, 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

Study Funding

The Water Trails Engineering Study is expected to cost about $500,000 and will be funded through a public-private partnership. The full amount has been raised, thanks to the generous support of multiple funders:

  • Leadership Circle of the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation – $205,000
  • 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
  • Area jurisdictions – $196,000

Engineering Firms

At the MPO Policy Committee meeting on May 25, contracts were approved to begin work on the Phase I Implementation: Water Trails Engineering Study.

The MPO has engaged the services of two teams to accomplish the Engineering Study. One team, ISG Engineering and Architecture, will focus on the proposed projects throughout the region; while 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.

Work has begun and we expect to have initial findings back by early fall with final designs and cost estimates expected in early 2018.

Advisory Committee

The Water Trails and Greenways Advisory Committee will oversee the development of a Water Trails Engineering Study. Agendas, minutes and presentations are posted below.

Water Trails Advisory Committee Membership

Agendas & Minutes

Supplemental Items*
September 2017 Agenda Minutes Presentation
Discussion Guide
May 2017 Agenda Minutes Presentation


September 2017 Meeting Presentation

May 2017 Meeting Presentation