Jul 19, 2021 - News
Grimes to become Des Moines' new sewer sister
An aerial photo of Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority's facilities.
Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority's facilities on DSM's southeast side. Photo courtesy of WRA

Grimes is decommissioning its wastewater treatment plant and plans to join the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (WRA) next year, the utility's director told the Des Moines City Council last week.

Why it matters: It's going to help save locals money.

Context: The WRA is a regional utility of 17 governments or sewer districts, including DSM, WDM and Ankeny.

  • It serves more than 500K people and cleans an average of 58 million gallons of wastewater each day.
  • Operation costs are shared, based on each community's outflow.

👃 Get a whiff of this: Grimes' 1970s treatment plant has nearly reached its capacity and has been emitting unpleasant smells, according to a city Q&A.

  • It's still in compliance with state requirements, but the city determined in 2018 that it was in its best interest to join the WRA for the long term.
  • An 18-month connection project is underway.

By the numbers: The WRA's annual operating budget is around $56.2 million.

  • Grimes will make up less than 4% of wastewater outflow once connected and will pay $27.4 million to the WRA over 30 years.

The bottom line: Residents probably won't see a reduction in their utility bills, but Grimes' participation sharing WRA's expenses will help reduce pressure on future rates, utility director Scott Hutchens told Axios.

💭 Our thought bubble: The WRA demonstrates the power of regional cooperation.

  • 18 metro governments have figured out that they don't each need a wastewater treatment plant.
  • Couldn't we do the same for other tasks?
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