Sep 1, 2022 - News

A faster floodgate planned for Des Moines Water Works

A photo of a flood gate.

This floodgate at George Flagg Parkway and Fleur Drive is the largest and one of the oldest in the city’s levee system. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

A floodgate near George Flagg Parkway and Fleur Drive would be replaced under a plan being developed by Des Moines city staffers.

Why it matters: It would provide faster protection for Des Moines Water Works — the state's largest water utility — as well as some commercial buildings in the area.

State of play: The project is an attempt to prevent a repeat of the 1993 disaster that flooded 10 states and caused billions of dollars in damages.

  • Hundreds of thousands of central Iowa residents were left without safe drinking water for about a month after Water Works flooded.

Flashback: The current gate was installed in 1996. It uses panels that require assembly and as much as seven hours to put into place, Peter Zemansky, a city spokesperson tells Axios.

What's happening: Last week, the city council authorized spending nearly $350,000 to design a roll gate system that could close and seal that section of levee in less than 30 minutes.

  • $12 million in other types of downtown levee improvements that include increasing the height are already underway.

What's next: Design and study work associated with the new gate will take place in coming months.

  • It is anticipated to cost around $2 million and be installed in the next few years.
A photo of a floodgate.
The Water Works floodgate will look like this one at 2100 Saylor Rd. that protects Des Moines' Union Park neighborhood. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

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