It’s a big day’: Initial approval granted for water trails project that will pass through downtown Des Moines

The Central Iowa Water Trails project, which would transform 150 miles of waterways into a recreational amenity, is finally afloat. 

The Des Moines Zoning Board of Adjustment on Wednesday approved a conditional use permit for transforming of a portion of the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines into a whitewater course. Part of the project would include modifications to the Scott Avenue Dam at the confluence of the Des Moines and Racoon rivers. 

While many approvals are yet to come — including permission for the dam modifications from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates construction on all navigable waterways — the vote represents a significant step toward construction of the long-anticipated regional project. It is expected to generate more than $104.4 million in tourism dollars within five years of its opening.


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