Des Moines Sewer Project Underscores Commitment To Infrastructure, Flood Control

November 2012, Vol. 67, No. 11

“The need and funding for the pump station came after the design of the Riverwalk project,” Kamp explains. “Once the location was determined, there was a coordinated effort with the architect that designed the kiosk building and the engineer of the pump station to best fit with the completed design elements. Normally a pump station is less about aesthetics and more about function. But in this case, we were able to get project engineers and architects together to find a way to get both. There was compromise from all sides. Given the high profile location, limited space and established Riverwalk aesthetics, there are many elements of the project that would not typically be in a pump station project. Aesthetics had to be adjusted to ensure function of the station was not compromised.”

Project finances
The project was funded by a combination of state, federal and local funds. There was a $4 million grant from Community Development Block Grant funds, $3.5 million of I-Jobs funding, and the balance funded by Storm Water Utility revenue bonds. As a result, businesses and the thousands of downtown loft and apartment dwellers are now better protected; the result of an improved infrastructure that helps ensure the downtown area remains economically viable while supporting recreational use -- all in an aesthetically-pleasing manner.

“Aside from some unavoidable traffic backups and congestion during peak times and a few minor, unsightly inconveniences to the thousands of Downtown Farmer’s Market goers, the project has gone really well,” Kamp says. “Contractors, workers and the city tried to minimize inconvenience and mitigate the occasional frustration of drivers and downtown pedestrian traffic, but some of the challenges were simply unavoidable. The vast majority of Des Moines residents are unaware of just how significant this project really is, or what has taken place underground, making the downtown area safer from flooding. It really is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind sort of thing.”

Mary O’Keefe, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Principal Financial Group, and chair of the Riverfront Development Authority, accompanied the Riverwalk team to other cities with similar river attractions to get a sense of the operations.