City officials in Des Moines and surrounding suburbs met Wednesday to discuss a plan to regionalize how water is produced for customers in the state’s largest metro. West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer says it would be more cost effective for the central Iowa cities to work on producing water together instead of a bunch of separate facilities.
“It’s incumbent then on [the cities] as their own utility to go ahead and handle the water from that point to the residents,” Gaer says.
The discussions follow a controversial bill that failed in the Iowa legislature that would have broken up the board governing the Des Moines Water Works. Critics of the bill say it was retribution for a now-dismissed lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Water Works over nitrate pollution. Gaer says the failure of the bill in last legislative session caused the cities to refocus on the topic of regionalization and work together on a plan before the legislature reconvenes in January.
The group includes water directors, board chairs and mayors from Des Moines, West Des Moines, Urbandale, Ankeny, Johnston and Waukee. All those suburbs with the exception of West Des Moines buy their water from Des Moines Water Works. West Des Moines produces 80 percent of the water it supplies residents and buys the remaining 20% from Des Moines Water Works.
The group will meet every two weeks until December and welcome public input.