Watershed Overview

The Walnut Creek Watershed is located in western Polk and eastern Dallas counties in central Iowa. The 53,000 acre landscape is rapidly changing, with over six-square miles being developing between 2001-2011. The creek itself is a primary source for the metro area drinking water, joining up with the Raccoon River just above Des Moines Water Works.

A Watershed Management Authority (WMA) was developed to address environmental concerns seen throughout the watershed and in the creek. A watershed management plan was developed by the WMA to showcase ways the urban and rural communities can overcome these concerns and increase the overall quality of the watershed.

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To address the numerous issue of the Walnut Creek Watershed, a watershed management plan was completed in 2016. The goal of this plan is to improve water quality and prevent increases in flooding. To achieve this, the plan outlines the process to restore the watershed’s ability to slow, absorb and store rainfall.

Rural Tow

On the rural landscape, implementing conservation practices improve water quality and reduce downstream flooding. These practices include but are not limited to bioreactors, cover crops, stream buffers, grassed waterways, and wetlands.


On the urban landscape work must focus on improving stormwater management and stabilizing eroding streams, resulting in improved water quality, reduced runoff, and more flood resilient communities. Developers, cities, and homeowners can create landscapes that treat rainfall as a resource rather than a waste product.


Policy guides stormwater management techniques that mitigate the impacts of urban development. Alter development standards for stormwater management including stream buffers, floodplain protection, and Iowa Stormwater Management Manual design requirements.

Watershed Stories

Below are some of our latest stories and projects.

4,300 acres of land in the watershed were developed between 2001 and 2011