Water Works Park is a 1,500-acre urban park – one of the largest in the nation – and a critical source of clean drinking water to 500,000 Central Iowans.

A Master Plan was launched in 2013 to create a road map for the future of Water Works Park. The plan aims to create and grow a park that celebrates clean water by not only conserving land and enhancing the park’s innovative natural water filtration system, but also offering more recreational and educational opportunities.

With easier access to the outdoors and environmental education, Water Works Park can help transform the way our community thinks about water and act to protect it.

Although many of us know Water Works Park as an urban oasis, the park’s primary mission is to serve as the first water source for Central Iowans.

Master Plan

The Master Plan for Water Works Park will introduce visitors to the park’s many assets through better wayfinding; support systems such as parking, bathrooms, and food trucks; and safe connections to neighboring Gray’s Lake Park and the many regional trail systems.

Listening to the input provided by our community and enlisting volunteers to assist our efforts, helped us form the Master Plan.

Big Splash

This phase of the project connects Water Works Park to Gray’s Lake Park and welcomes visitors to explore the park.

An amphitheater, natural play areas, and public art are featured improvements. Trails, vendor space, lighting, and public safety improvements are also included to make the park more accessible to users.

Clean Water

Development of the circuit includes deepening basins and creating chutes to increase surface water in the park. Shoreline restoration and other landscape work support the park’s essential function as a water filtration system.

Plans also include improved access to fishing, the development of paddling opportunities, and additional educational displays, signage, and safety mechanisms.

Selected Memorial Trees Removed from Park

Construction for the first phase of Des Moines Water Works’ community-driven master plan for Water Works Park improvements began in May 2018. During this 90-acre development project, 180 of the 1,100 memorial trees were removed from the crabapple arboretum.

Much consideration was given to placement of the improvements and their impact, including flooding risk, traffic, and safety. Tree removal was necessary to safely connect Gray’s Lake Park with Water Works Park. The Foundation worked with Des Moines Water Works and the City of Des Moines to improve the existing 2005 design for a passageway under Fleur Drive. The passageway provides a much safer connection between the two parks, eliminating the interaction between heavy vehicular traffic and park visitors traveling between the two popular parks.

River Constellation includes memorial names on rings, and more rings are available to purchase.