The Des Moines Water Works board of trustees has released a draft agreement for a regionalized drinking water system to be considered by other communities in Central Iowa.

The 28E-28F agreement, to be shared with 13 communities in the area that buy water from Des Moines Water Works, would authorize the creation of a regional water utility.

If a regional water utility is created, it would be known as the Central Iowa Water Works. If a governmental sharing agreement is signed and enough communities in the region agree to participate, the new utility could become operational by early 2023.

Ted Corrigan, the CEO and general manager of Des Moines Water Works, said a regional water utility would better meet the needs of the region as it continues to grow.

“The intention is to bring the regional vision to reality through the creation of Central Iowa Water Works,” Corrigan said. “We have worked together regionally since 1934 when DMWW and the Urbandale Water Utility signed the first agreement to provide drinking water. Since then, the region has grown significantly. Looking forward, we are better able to meet the challenge of providing safe drinking water to 600,000 Central Iowans if we work together.”

Graham Gillette, chair of the Des Moines Water Works board, said the agreement, released at the board’s meeting on Tuesday, is just the starting point for negotiations for the creation of a regional utility.

“The plan being forwarded creates a resilient regional water utility capable of facing current and future challenges,” he said. “Protecting water, a vital natural resource, requires that the people of Central Iowa work together. We become stronger by equitably sharing governance, investment and financial risk.”

According to the 95-page draft agreement:
  • A new regional utility, Central Iowa Water Works, would provide water to all member communities.
  • The regional utility would manage water to ensure that drinking water remains safe and that supplies are adequate to meet the needs of customers.
  • The plan would establish shared ownership, operation and maintenance of existing water supply facilities of the founding agencies.
  • The plan would include the construction of new water supply facilities, as well as the expansion of existing ones.

Under the proposed agreement, all local utilities would maintain their own water boards or water departments within each community and would supply the water they purchase to their individual customers, set their own water rates, operate and maintain their local distribution systems, and provide all of their own customer service.

The release of the draft agreement follows the board’s vote in December to begin negotiations for a regional water utility.

Two other metro water utilities, West Des Moines and Urbandale, voted last month to enter negotiations.

The votes followed years of discussion that began around 2016.

According to a report that was issued in November, a new Central Iowa Water Works board would include one representative from each participating community, with those over 100,000 (Des Moines) having two representatives.