Water - background water

Nationwide, more deaths occur each year due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or ear flood waters. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.

Under given circumstances, virtually any area can be subjected to flooding. Before reporting a flooding problem it is important to understand the different types of flooding and the responsibilities associated with them.

There are four general types of flooding that may cause property damage:


Riverine Flooding

Riverine Flooding

Riverine flooding is the overflow of rivers and streams due to excessive rainfall, snowmelt, or ice. Floods are a natural occurrence and can develop in a matter of minutes to to several days depending upon the size of the watershed. Every river and stream has an adjacent area, or floodplain, that conveys floodwater in excess of the stream capacity during these events.

Because of the significant potential for damage due to flooding of Walnut Creek and the Raccoon River, the cities of Clive, Des Moines, and West Des Moines have cooperatively developed the Des Moines Metro ALERT system. This system includes a network of automated rainfall and stream gages that allow for real-time observation of conditions in the Des Moines Metropolitan area. This information is used to operate the Raccoon River and Walnut Creek levee system and plan emergency response operations.

The smaller streams within the City generally are not protected by levees or other structural means. The primary method of flood protection in these areas is limiting construction within the floodplain. To report a riverine flooding problem, see below.

   To view FEMA's flood map for any address, check their website:  https://msc.fema.gov/portal


Local Flooding

Local  FloodingLocal flooding occurs primarily in streets, parking lots, and yards when precipitation exceeds the capacity of the local drainage system. In most cases, public streets are intended to convey stormwater runoff in excess of the capacity of the storm sewer system. This may result in temporary ponding at the lowest points of roadways and overflow into nearby streams or drainageways.

If local flooding is a concern, the first step is to determine the possible cause. Flooding caused by plugged intakes, failed pipes, or insufficient capacity of the public system may be the responsibility of the City. Excessive runoff from adjacent property or private drainage systems is a civil matter between the property owners. To report a local drainage problem, see below.


Groundwater Basement Flooding

Basements are often flooded by high groundwater. This is especially true in the spring when rain falls on ground saturated by snowmelt. However, some areas are affected by high groundwater at all times of the year. Because groundwater is highly variable and property specific it is almost always the property owner’s responsibility to maintain individual groundwater removal systems such as sump pumps.

Sump pump lines should never be connected to the sanitary sewer. These types of connections can overload sewer mains and cause sewage backups. The City encourages you to connect your sump pump to the storm sewer system. If no storm sewer is available, the City has a program to construct storm sewers in areas where sump pumps are a problem. 

To report a flooding issue or request additional information, please contact us using any of these methods:

 Call West Des Moines Public Services
 Report from your cellphone or computer using:

 Sanitary Sewer Backup

Sanitary Sewer Backup

Sanitary sewer backups occur when stormwater infiltrates into leaking sewer pipes. The smaller sewer pipes can be quickly overwhelmed causing water to backup through floor drains and fixtures. If you suspect you have a sanitary sewer backup immediately call the Department of Public Services at 222-3480.

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