City of Des Moines Plans Wetland Water Filter to Protect Farm Runoff

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AMES, Iowa- The Iowa Water Conference wrapped up a two-day run here Thursday with a panel on urban, and rural working together to improve water quality.

Jonathon Gano, Public Works Director for the City of Des Moines shared a concept on the drawing boards for the metro area to reach out, and build a sort of filter on incoming water from farms.

“So one of the things that the city of Des Moines is doing is to help advance this conversation, is looking at constructing wetlands up in the outer reaches of somewhere closer in watersheds,” said Gano.

The idea is to work though the Four Mile Creek Watershed authority, which enables Des Moines, and other cities, such as Ankeny to be involved in water projects outside the city boundary. The group is looking to construct a project somewhere near Slater.

“Looking at constructing wetlands and other things like restoring oxbows giving places for the water to go,” said Gano. “Let it sit there for a while cool off, calm down, settle out dirt, the nutrients, before it passes on into the main body of the stream.”

Gano indicated the project is in preliminary stages

“We’re not exactly sure where it’s going to be built yet, but were working with a couple of different options in the vicinity of the City of Slater, to build either wetlands or other similar water control devices.”

Also the Iowa Water Conference heard about efforts to cleanup water flowing into Easter Lake in Des Moines. The Yeader Creek Watershed is one of the few in Iowa, which is contained almost entirely in the city of Des Moines. The Polk Soil and Water Conservation District has been working along with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to educate homeowners how to curb runoff.

Homeowners are encouraged to use rain gardens, and rain barrels to help reduce water runoff into the lake. The Conservation District will now be working with some of the big box stores along SE 14th to help retain water which now drains from large parking lots. The lake recently had tons of silt removed from some of the bays of the lake.

“We got about half of our dredging done now our focus is going to be doing some shoreline stabilization work,” said Zach DeYoung, of the Polk Soil and Water Conservation District. “We’re doing a big storm water wetland on the northeast side of the lake we’re also going to be putting out some fish habitat some structures out into the lake while it’s lowered.”

Easter Lake will not have any water in 2017, however, it is hoped to have it filled in time for the 2018 recreation season.