West Des Moines Water Works
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History of West Des Moines Water Works


Over 100 years ago, town officials took action to establish the community’s first private water utility. On June 13, 1899, an ordinance was passed to hold an election to authorize the town council to form the Valley Junction Water and Light Company. After discussions with town officials and a consultant, a location for the first plant was determined . . . along Railroad Avenue.

On July 8, 1899 an election was held to approve the formation of Valley Junction’s first public water supply. For various reasons, the utility faltered and another election was held in 1913 to establish the Valley Junction Water Works. Shortly after the election, in 1915, a three-member Board of Trustees was formed to oversee operation of the utility. Board members were appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council. This Board was apparently short-lived as city archives show city council members taking action on utility operations. It was during this time that Valley Junction became West Des Moines.

An election in 1950 authorized forming a three-member Board of Trustees to provide oversight and direction to the utility. Then, in 1982 an election was held to increase the number of members on the Board of Water Works Trustees from three to five. Over the years, many changes and improvements have been implemented. Following is a brief history of our treatment plant and distribution system.


History of Treatment Plant and Distribution System


Prior to 1953, untreated water was taken directly from city wells, disinfected and pumped throughout our distribution system. In 1953, West Des Moines constructed a water treatment plant. The water treatment process at that time consisted of iron removal, sediment removal, disinfection and filtering. Our distribution system had one water tower at the corner of Eighth and Hillside which stored 100,000 gallons of treated water. This tower was replaced in 1953 with a 500,000 gallon tower at 17th and Iowanola.

To continue to meet the ever-increasing demands of our customers, improvements have been made to the treatment plant and distribution system. These include adding a softening process at the plant, drilling of 23 additional wells, the most recent of which was a deep well completed in 2017, and constructing 11,500,000 gallons worth of additional storage throughout our community.

Expansion at the treatment plant has increased output from 2.5 million gallons of water per day in 1953 to the present capacity of 12 million gallons per day. In addition, our customers now own 9 million gallons of water treatment capacity in the Des Moines Water Works.

These improvements will ensure that adequate quantities of the highest quality water possible will continue to meet our customer's needs well into our second century of supplying public water.