Mar 22, 2022 - News

Several Des Moines developments threatened by sewer issues

Illustration of pipes shaped like a dollar sign.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Several areas in Des Moines where major developments are planned have inadequate sewer capacity, Public Works director Jonathan Gano told City Council members Monday.

Why it matters: Economic development and human health are at stake. Sewage could improperly discharge into neighborhood areas or waterways if the issues are not addressed, Gano said.

Driving the news: Gano presented to the council a prioritization study Monday that weighs the likely development of an area and whether its current sewer network can accommodate anticipated growth.

  • Of 17 areas identified through a long-term city development plan, nine lacked adequate sewer service, the study concluded. Among them is the downtown location where the city's $84 million soccer stadium is slated to be built.

State of play: Plans are already in play to address sewer issues at the soccer stadium site and in an area along E. Army Post Road near Southridge Mall, where inadequate systems limit development potential, Gano said.

  • The other seven areas would be updated over the next 13 years, according to a nearly $17.5 million development plan Gano also presented Monday.

Between the lines: Upgrades to the soccer stadium area are included in a budget plan for the fiscal year that begins in July.

  • A nearly $700,000 sewer project would be completed before the team's first kickoff in 2024, Gano told Axios this week.

Separately: More than 700 homes in Des Moines still use private septic systems, Gano said.

  • The plan includes $400,000 to help connect more homes to the city’s sewer system, he said.

The bottom line: Des Moines' growth is causing a bit of indigestion and it's not as simple as downing a little Pepto Bismol.

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