Phase Two Yeader Creek Stabilization

From the time Easter Lake was created in 1967 to 2012, the lake lost nearly 30% of its volume due to sedimentation. 60% of this sediment was attributed to stream bank erosion, primarily in Yeader Creek. Stabilization projects will help to reduce erosion, and sediment and phosphorus loading into Easter Lake improving water quality.

January 2020 Update

Section YC-11B: At this location, the contractor is substantially complete with all grading and stabilization operations. Seeding, plantings, and permanent fences will be completed in Spring 2020.

Section A: The contractor began tree clearing and construction of a temporary access road in early December 2019. At the end of December 2019, the necessary trees have been cleared, and the contractor is installing the sheet pile retaining wall at the south end of the section on the east side of the channel. The contractor plans to have the retaining wall installed early January 2020. Following the retaining wall installation, grading and stabilization operations will be conducted throughout the channel.

Section YC-12: Tree clearing for this section has begun and stabilization will take place this winter.

*Section YC-11B is located near E. Kenyon Ave. and just west of S.E. 5th Street. Section YC-12 and Section A are located along a tributary north of Porter Avenue between South Union and S.E. 1st Court.

November 2019 Update

Section YC-11B: The contractor began tree clearing and construction of the temporary access road mid-October, 2019. Most of the trees have now been removed, temporary fencing has been installed, and trash found in the channel has been hauled away as of November 12, 2019. Grading and stabilization work is being conducted throughout the south end of the section, including construction of a block retaining wall (known as Wall 1) on the east side of the channel. The contractor plans to continue grading and stabilization operations to the north end of the section after the retaining wall is complete.

Section YC-12 and Section A: The contractor has scheduled these sections to be next for tree clearing and stabilization operations this winter.

*Section YC-11B is located near E. Kenyon Ave. and just west of S.E. 5th Street. Section YC-12 and Section A are located along a tributary north of Porter Ave. between South Union and S.E. 1st Court.

July 2019 Update

The City of Des Moines has established a new point of contact for Phase 2 Yeader Creek Improvements. For questions or concerns about this project please contact:

  • Joseph Eddy, P.E.

RW Excavating Solutions, LC. will be completing stream stabilization work along Yeader Creek in five locations:

  1.  West of Indianola Avenue to east of S.E. 14th Street;
  2. From west of S.E. 14th Street to S.E. 5th Street;
  3. Along a south tributary just west of S.E. 5th Street;
  4. Along a south tributary north of Porter Avenue between South Union and S.E. 1st Court; and
  5. From 209 Kenyon Avenue to S.W. 5th Street.

These channel locations were identified as proposed projects in the Easter Lake Water Quality Management Plan that was completed in 2012 in partnership with the Iowa DNR and Polk County. These channel locations were prioritized by the City of Des Moines, Polk County and the Iowa DNR in the 2012 Easter Lake Water Quality Management plan as being necessary to improve the water quality in Easter Lake.

For additional information please contact Joseph Eddy at 515-283-4034 or email at

November 28th Public Meeting Recap

On November 28th, 2018 the City of Des Moines hosted a public meeting to present the proposed improvement plan for Yeader Creek Stabilization Phase 2 and offer an opportunity for those whose property may be affected to provide input on the current proposed grading plan design and easement limits along their property. Additionally, as the part of the meeting, the City desired to inform property owners that will be impacted of what to expect in the easement acquisition process and to notify them that they will be receiving communications from the City’s Real Estate staff. Below are images and materials shared during the public meeting.

Project Area Maps and Designs

Click here for a PDF version of project area maps

Yeader Creek Phase 2 FAQS

Click here for a PDF version of the FAQs information below.

November 28, 2018

To: City of Des Moines Residents

RE: Yeader Creek Stream Stabilization Phase 2 Project (Activity ID 01-2017-032)


Q. What is the reason for and purpose of this project? 

A. Easter Lake was built in 1967 with a surface area covering approximately 178 acres. The watershed area that drains to the lake is comprised of approximately 6,500 acres. The lake is situated within Easter Lake Park, which is owned and managed by Polk County, and Ewing Park, which is owned and managed by the City of Des Moines. The lake and surrounding park offer a variety of quality of life opportunities including fishing, boating, picnicking, walking trails, wildlife watching, and swimming.

Over the years, water quality in Easter Lake declined to unsatisfactory levels. The surface area and water volume in the lake has shrunk considerably from its original size. Sedimentation and nutrients have resulted in frequent algae blooms and low water clarity. Elevated bacteria levels in the lake have resulted in swimming advisories.

In 2012, concerned governmental and regulatory entities including the City of Des Moines, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Polk County Conservation Board co-sponsored the development of an Easter Lake Water Quality Management Plan (the Plan). Portions of the Plan were developed upon input that was received from various stakeholders, citizens, and watershed landowners input during public meetings. Key components of the Plan include the dredging of Easter Lake along in conjunction with shoreline improvements (currently underway), fish habitat improvement (currently underway), dredging and improvements of South Easter Lake watershed ponds (currently out for bids) and the stabilization of Yeader Creek.

Since its creation, Easter Lake has lost 30% of its volume due to siltation. Analysis of the watershed estimated nearly 60% of sediment deposited in Easter Lake resulted from stream bank erosion, primarily along Yeader Creek.

In an effort to prevent future sediment deposition into Easter Lake, the first phase of the Yeader Creek Stream Stabilization Project was completed in 2017. In total, an estimated $15-$18 million dollars will have been invested by the project partners for the improvements in the Easter Lake watershed once all major improvements have been completed.

Q. What is the purpose of this meeting?

A. The City of Des Moines held a previous meeting regarding this project on June 28, 2018. At that meeting the City, along with its engineering design consultant, HR Green, Inc., and other regulatory agency representative, presented information on areas where erosion control improvements along Yeader Creek and its significant tributaries would be most beneficial to minimize erosion. Input that was obtained was then incorporated by HR Green to assist in further developing a grading and overall improvement plan, thus enhancing the preliminary concepts that were presented at the June 28th meeting.

Another goal of this meeting is to obtain property owner input with regards to the proposed grading contours and easement limits along their property.

Our goal is to make this a project that the community, as a whole, will support and, therefore, we request your input. To assist in that manner, we request you write your comments, along with your name, email, phone and property address on the comment sheets and turn them in this evening before you leave or email your comments to by 4:30 PM on November 30, 2018.

Q. Isn’t Stream Erosion a natural process that is not necessary to control? 

A. In rural wilderness areas stream bank erosion is most often not managed. However, the Yeader Creek area, which was annexed into the City of Des Moines in 1963, had experienced significant urban development prior to the original construction of Easter Lake in 1967. As a result of the urban development which includes the presence of a significant amount of utility facilities, uncontrolled stream erosion puts existing public and private infrastructure at risk, which in turn would likely lead to public health concerns. If Yeader Creek was not managed and allowed to return to a wilderness riparian forest area, than all homes and properties adjacent to any part of Yeader Creek floodway or its tributaries would be in serious peril and potentially result in becoming uninhabitable in the future.

Q. Aren’t fallen and dead trees a natural part of a riparian (along a watercourse) forest that need not be removed?

A. Fallen trees are a natural part of a mature rural or wilderness riparian forest. However, if downed trees are not controlled and removed in an urban riparian forest, then a much wider flood plain will be required for Yeader Creek than exists today since fallen trees inhibit water flow and result in the backing up, and raising the levels, of water which is detrimental to adjacent properties.

Q. What is “rip rap” and why is it necessary for this urban stream stabilization project? 

A. The Yeader Creek Stabilization Project goals as established through public citizen and property owner meeting input included the control of stream bank soil erosion. If not controlled, the eroded soil would likely be deposited in Easter Lake, causing algae blooms from nutrient rich, silty soil that are carried into Easter Lake during storm events. Rip rap is large rock (weighing 20 to 200+ pounds) that is placed along the “toe,” or bottom of the stream bank (usually about 3 feet above the normal water surface level). Since rip rap is a very hard and coarse material, water will not penetrate and erode it away, thus providing a layer of protection to the soil underneath and keeping it in place. This rock is also placed such that it will help decrease the velocity of the streams, which also reduces the rate of erosion. Taller native wetland grasses will also be planted alongside the rip rap, which is intended to return the look of a stream to a more natural area. Native grasses take about 2 years to establish, but are truer to natural Iowa riparian areas once they get established.

Q. What are riffles and how are they used in stream stabilization projects? 

A. Riffles are areas along the center of the stream where larger rip rap (stones from 150 pounds to 300 pounds) are placed at increments along the stream to reduce water velocities and prevent erosion in the streambed. The riffles imitate the natural way a stream flows through boulders. Riffles are placed at a height that will slightly back water naturally from the top of the one riffle back to the foot of a previous upstream riffle. As these riffles naturally catch silt, they prevent erosive down-cutting of the stream channel. These riffles may not look very natural immediately following installation, but as the native grasses grow out from the bank, they become a very natural-looking part of a stabilized stream.

Q. Are these plans we are seeing the final plans that will be built?

A. Not necessarily. While these are 65% complete conceptual plans, there are ongoing design considerations yet to be implemented but, generally, it is not anticipated that the design will be altered significantly. In most cases, the plans do reflect the final grading contours and easement limits. The design consultant has an ecologist on their design team that will choose appropriate native grass plantings for the restoration of any areas disturbed. The ecologist and the City will attempt to save as many trees as possible along the stream banks and will work to determine where replacement trees should be planted.

Q. Can I get a copy of the plans on the exhibit boards at this November 28th meeting?

A. Yes, if you want a copy of the exhibit that includes plans for your property just make a note of that on your comment sheet and we would be glad to email you a copy at the email address you list on your comment or you can come into City Hall, 400 Robert D Ray Drive, Des Moines, Iowa. Take the elevator to the 3rd floor at the North end of the building and ask for Bruce Rydberg at the reception desk.

Q. What is the anticipated process and construction schedule for this project?

A. The bidding and start of construction for this project is dependent upon how long it takes to complete the easement acquisition phase of this project. Additionally, the project schedule is dependent upon final IDNR programming of their anticipated portion of project funding. At this point, it is anticipated the project will be bid between April 2019 and September 2019 with construction likely starting in late summer or fall of 2019.

Q. What is the Easement Acquisition process used for this project? 

A. The acquisition of easements, which will permit the City access to the private properties necessary to construct and maintain the stream stabilization features in this project, is next step in this project. City Real Estate staff will be mailing a letter to affected property owners with information specifically about the easement that is needed on your property and will then follow up by contacting you about 10 days thereafter to schedule a time to meet and discuss the issue. Real Estate staff are available at this meeting to answer any further questions on the City easement acquisition process. If you don’t have an opportunity to do that at this meeting, you may contact Paige Moeckly by email at or call the City Real Estate section of the City Engineering Department at: 515-283-4561

Q. Why has rotenone been used on Yeader Creek for correcting the fishery management problem?

A. Rotenone application is not part of the City’s project. This City project on Yeader Creek is for stream stabilization only. The State of Iowa is responsible for management of fisheries, and controls invasive fish species through different methods that they determine are appropriate. The IDNR has some interest in coordinating their fish control activities with the timing of the Yeader Creek Stabilization project, but the City is not, and will not be, involved in any of the fish species control activities, nor will any of the contractors that the City hires for stream bank restoration. If there is further interest in following up on Rotenone usage please contact Alex Murphy at Iowa DNR:, 515-729-7533.

Yeader Creek Stream Stabilization Phase 2 Practices Guide

To stabilize Yeader Creek, a variety of stream stabilization tools and methods will be used. Read below to learn more. Click here to view a PDF version of the Yeader Creek stabilization practices guide

Toe Rock Protection

Rock toe protection is a technique used to stabilize the toe (bottom) of the slope and is used to keep high velocity currents from undercutting the bank and causing bank failure. For the Yeader Creek project toe rock will be placed only on the outer meander bend in most cases.


Rock Riffles

Riffles are structures that use natural materials to provide grade control and improve habitat. The rocks are sized to remain immobile during high flows to stabilize the bed and prevent degradation. During low flows, the riffles reduce stream velocities and dissipate the flow energy.

Live staking

Live staking involves the insertion of cuttings from dormant native woody plants (trees and shrubs) into the ground so they root and grow. Live stakes do not provide much initial reinforcement of the soil. However, over time the stakes take root and the roots help bind the soil together.

Stilling Basin

Rock stilling basins are used to dissipate energy at the outlet of a culvert or other dissipation structure. They slow water before continuing downstream and therefore reduce the likelihood of erosion.

Bendway Weirs

Bendway weirs are submerged structures placed on the outside bends of a meander and angled upstream. They are designed to move flow away from the banks and to the center of the channel.


June 28th, 2018

On June 28th, 2018 at the South Side Senior Center a public meeting was held for attendees to learn more about conceptual design plans for improvements in Yeader Creek. During the meeting, a representative from HR Green presented project information and responded to questions from the public. After the presentation, attendees were invited to look at specific sections of stream stabilization to ask questions and provide feedback to the City of Des Moines who is the lead for Phase 2 stabilization of Yeader Creek.

Included below is information that was shared during the public meeting. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this project please contact Bruce Rydberg, P.E. at

Public Meeting Presentation Slides

Click here for a PDF version of the presentation slides

Conceptual Designs

Click here for a PDF version of the conceptual designs


June 2018

City of Des Moines, Engineering Department – In 2013, the Easter Lake Watershed Project began in effort to improve water quality in Easter Lake. In 2012, partners of the project including the City of Des Moines, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Polk County Conservation Board co-sponsored the development of the Easter Lake Water Quality Management Plan. Key actions of the plan include lake dredging (currently underway), shoreline and fishery improvement, and stabilization of Yeader Creek. Since its creation, Easter Lake has lost 30% of its volume to siltation. Analysis of the watershed estimated nearly 60% of sediment deposited in Easter Lake resulted from stream bank erosion, primarily along Yeader Creek.

The City of Des Moines completed the first Phase of the Yeader Creek Stabilization Improvements in 2017. Phase 1 improved and stabilized Yeader Creek west of SW 9th Street and in Ewing Park north of E. Diehl Avenue. Polk County is currently working to complete dredging of Easter Lake. To improve long term water quality in Easter Lake it is necessary to reduce as much sediment as possible entering Easter Lake, by restoring and stabilizing the Yeader Creek stream bed and some of its significant tributary drainageways.

Our Consultant, HR Green, Inc., the City of Des Moines, and other key regulatory agencies have identified key areas where erosion control work on Yeader Creek and its significant tributaries would be most beneficial to minimize erosion and help maintain this urban stream as a healthy stream drainageway. The design team has developed conceptual plans for the areas shown on the map included below. The details of the conceptual plans for the stream mitigation concepts will be discussed at the meeting. This is an opportunity for public input on these design concepts prior to proceeding to final design.

You are invited to a meeting to learn more details about the project and schedule. The meeting will begin with a presentation with general project information. After the presentation we will be taking individual property owner feedback around table displays that focus on different segments of the stream. The meeting will be held:

Public Meeting

Thursday, June 28, 2018

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

South Side Senior Center

100 Payton Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50315

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this project, please contact Bruce K. Rydberg, P.E. at or 515-283-4074.

Click to view preliminary Yeader Creek Phase 2 location map

Click to view Phase One Yeader Creek Stabilization

Click the photos below to view examples of the highly eroding banks of Yeader Creek

Page last updated April 8, 2020