City of West Des Moines Prevents Major Flooding Thanks to Emergency Plan

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Recent floods in Des Moines Metro is not affecting residential areas or businesses in West Des Moines.

West Des Moines City Engineer Brian Hemesath said a flood emergency plan for the city began in the 1970s. In the 1990s the city started building a levee system along Walnut Creek and the Raccoon River.

“The levee system hands down has kept West Des Moines, especially the Valley Junction area around first and Grand. That area has been kept very dry, because of the levee system that is in place,” Hemesath said.

Hemesath said a series of gate structures across the levee system close down at different water levels.

When all of the gates are closed, it blocks water from the river and prevents flooding for West Des Moines Residents.

Hemesath said there have been improvements since the 1990s to the system.

“Raccoon River Park for example, when the river gets up to a certain level it tends to flood the park. Blue Hareon Lake comes up pretty high  and we will flood out our trails, boat ramp, our fishing pier and things like that,” Hemesath said.

The city replaced a small pipe that once drained the river at Raccoon River Park and replaced it with larger pipes to make the drainage process quicker.

Two areas the city is known to shut down is the Raccoon River Park and Walnut Woods Drive. Walnut Woods Drive closes first when the gauge reading is around 34.5 feet on a relative scake. The park follows flooding at around 36 feet on a relative scale.

Hemesath said the city is working on a new project on First and Grand Avenue to continue to protect that area from flooding.

“That basically is taking water from the dry side of the levee when the creek is up, and moving it across over to the wet side. What we had before was a lot smaller pump station,” Hemesath said.

The project is set to be completed in 2020.

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