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Bill Stowe Talks Public Works at Lunch and Learn

Young Professionals Connection Public Works Lunch and L

March 16, 2012

As the public works director for the City of Des Moines, Bill Stowe spends much of his time evaluating risk—risks associated with roads, other infrastructure and weather. He put his knowledge on display for the YPC Civic Cafe on March 13. Stowe has a somewhat cult-like status in Des Moines, what with his own Raygun T-shirt and basically being the face that everyone associates with impending flooding or a large snowstorm.

“We take for granted the risks that we face successfully every day, but they are very real,” Stowe said.

Stowe talked about sewage treatment, water quality, flooding and aging infrastructure, among other things.


  • Stowe estimated that on March 13, the Des Moines Wastewater Reclamation Authority would treat 60 million gallons of sewage for the region and putting it in a treated form into the Des Moines River.
  • Water quality in Iowa is among the worst in the nation, an issue not driven by sewage treatment but by agriculture runoff.
  • He pointed out that you don’t have to live near a river to need to worry about flood protection. “When life really becomes inconvenient is when the basement floor drain starts to bring the water up through it,” which can cause flooding. That can happen all over the city, which has to do with the age and condition of the pipes and manholes. The city will pay for up to $1,000 to fix a home’s pipe system.

Stowe also encouraged young professionals to go to the fill out contact information for the county’s Code Red system, which notifies residents of impending disasters and evacuations. Information on code red can be found here.