Questions about the WDM Water Works regionalization plan

Julie Stauch became invested and motivated about water issues after the 1993 floods. In 2017, she joined others across the metro area to speak out against the regionalization bill in the Iowa legislature, focusing on West Des Moines. She previously wrote about the West Des Moines Water Works regionalization plan here.

Below is the statement I delivered at the WDM Water Works Board of Trustees meeting on December 6. The next meeting will be a workshop at city hall on Tuesday, December 14, 2021 at 5:30 PM.

All of you have the title of Trustee, because you are entrusted with the governance responsibilities of the West Des Moines water works. It is rooted in trust between the people who use the utility and those who serve on the Board. The goal today is to take steps to focus on how vital trust is in your role for all WDM residents and rate payers.

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West Des Moines has other ways to address water production

Larry Anderson is a retired civil engineer and former general manager of the West Des Moines Water Works. He prepared these comments to submit to the West Des Moines Water Works trustees on December 13.

I’m a civil engineering graduate of Iowa State University, was a Registered Professional Civil Engineer in Iowa and the first general manager of West Des Moines Water Works, having been privileged to serve the utility for 27 years, between 1977 and 2004. However, my concern about regionalization of water production isn’t about any of those things.

The proposed change to regional, politicized governance of water production gives away a substantial part of West Des Moines destiny to others. Yes, West Des Moines would receive a voice in the decision-making of wholesale water rates. Whether it is a strong voice or simply a voice in the wilderness, due to the newly added politics, is a definite concern of mine and it should be to all West Des Moines residents. 

More important, the proposal gives an added political body the ability to simply say, “No, we cannot provide additional water right now to West Des Moines. We might be able to do that later, but not now.” So, an economic development proposal offered to West Des Moines will occur elsewhere. That is very concerning to me as a resident of West Des Moines since 1955. 

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The people must vote on WDM Water Works regionalization

Julie Stauch became invested and motivated about water issues after the 1993 floods. In 2017, she joined others across the metro area to speak out against the regionalization bill in the Iowa legislature, focusing on West Des Moines. She stayed involved attending meetings of a regional group representing communities across the metro area.

On November 30, leaders of West Des Moines Water Works discussed a regionalization plan in public for the first time. You likely did not know this plan was on the agenda for the “joint workshop” of the West Des Moines City Council’s workshop with the WDM Water Works, which had been announced the previous Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving). The posted agenda included only a vague reference to “Discussion on Future Water Supply Needs for West Des Moines.”

I had intended to publish here the statement I delivered at the workshop. But the nature of the event changed my point of view. Folks, we have a big problem at the WDM Water Works Board of Trustees.

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Large Iowa cities spending more on police, less on social services

Iowa’s seven largest cities are spending more on policing per capita and a greater portion of their municipal budgets on law enforcement compared to the 1990s, according to a new report by the Iowa Policy Project. Over the same time period, spending on social services per capita and as a share of the municipal budget has declined in six of those cities.

Colin Gordon and Peter Fisher authored “Policing, public safety and community priorities,” published on July 22 (also available in pdf format). They examined budgets for the 24 Iowa cities with populations of at least 20,000, because “it is in our larger urban settings in Iowa that the problems with policing — including a well-documented pattern of disproportionate minority contact — are most acute.”

Seven of the cities studied are “metropolitan”: Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo, Council Bluffs, and Dubuque. Seven are suburbs in large metro areas: West Des Moines, Ankeny, Urbandale, Bettendorf, Marion, Coralville, and Johnston. Three are college towns: Iowa City, Ames, and Cedar Falls. Seven are micropolitan cities: Mason City, Marshalltown, Clinton, Muscatine, Burlington, Fort Dodge, and Ottumwa.

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