From creating comprehensive watershed management plans to improving stream stabilization while creating engaging recreation opportunities that balance community goals, ISG’s water engineers and environmental specialists work on a variety of projects that help to sustainably manage and preserve our communities’ rivers and waterways. As ISG celebrates World Rivers Day with our global community on September 25, we reflect on projects where we preserved the ecological and recreational value and integrity of rivers and waterways in the Midwest.

ICON – Iowa’s Confluence Water Trails
Des Moines, IA

The Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) led efforts to create the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenway Plan (the Plan), which recommended 145 proposed amenities along 150 miles of waterways throughout Central Iowa. The project and organizing entity, Iowa Confluence Water Trails or ICON Water Trails, works to restore and reconnect people to the water, and advocates for infrastructure investments that will protect waterways for generations.

Partnering with ISG’s water resources, planning, and landscape architecture teams, master plans were developed for each of the 16 locations identified along the water trails network. The master plans included field verification, concept development, cost estimating, permitting, and construction scheduling, resulting in an implementable path forward for each of the jurisdictions along the nine rivers and creeks in the water trails network. With innovative designs that incorporate water access, green infrastructure, connectivity, and public art, ICON Water Trails is now a recreation destination, model for conservation, and economic driver for the state.

Learn more about the ICON project here!

One Watershed, One Plan Program Projects

Working with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR)’s One Watershed, One Plan program, ISG’s water specialists are creating comprehensive plans that contribute to a systematic, watershed-wide, and science-based approach to watershed management. The plans use prioritization, target, and measure methodology to identify implementation strategies for restoring and protecting priority rivers and streams. ISG has successfully completed numerous One Watershed, One Plan projects, including the Rum River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan and the Shell Rock River-Winnebago River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan.

Learn more about the One Watershed, One Plan program here!

Rum River Watershed Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan

Stretching 1,584 square miles from Mille Lacs Lake in the north to the City of Anoka in the south, the Rum River Watershed covers portions of 10 counties and passes through multiple eco-regions, including forest, agriculture, and urban. The confluence of the Rum and Mississippi Rivers significantly impacts drinking water quality for the urban area. The goals surrounding the development of the Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan were to identify strategies that will maintain existing water quality and protect downstream drinking water. ISG provided planning, engagement, water quality modeling, analysis, and technical writing services for the project. The final management plan was created using Flippingbook, an interactive, editorial-style digital tool which made the two-page implementation tables easy to digest and simple for stakeholders to share with outside groups. The plan was approved by BWSR, adopted by each local government, and is currently in the implementation phase.

See the Rum River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan here!

Learn more about the Rum River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan process here!

Shell Rock River-Winnebago River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan

With goals to restore impaired waters and habitat, reduce erosion and impacts from flooding, improve soil health, and protect high-quality habitat and groundwater quality, the Shell Rock River-Winnebago River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan provides a unifying strategy for water management in the Shell Rock River and Winnebago River watersheds. Leveraging ISG’s water quality and planning strengths, ISG’s team lead all services from facilitation and engineering to graphic design and technical writing to deliver an impactful plan that reflects the values of the watershed partnership.

Located in south-central Minnesota, the Shell Rock River and Winnebago River cover 317 square miles of primarily agricultural land that has been extensively drained. Building off of significant knowledge of the watersheds due to previously completing a water quality trading project for the Shell Rock River Watershed District and a Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) study through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for Fountain Lake and other water bodies within the planning area, ISG’s project team developed a framework that merged data and analytical modeling outcomes with a flexible application strategy to target areas that would provide the greatest benefit to the partnership’s priority resources.

Learn more about the Shell Rock River-Winnebago River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan process here!

ISG works to protect water quality and promote sustainable water systems in all projects we assist with. Learn more about how ISG implements best watershed management practices across various projects in our Water Quality Month blog post.


Bailey Griffin, PE
Water Resources Engineer

Mark Origer, PE
Civil Engineer

Meet Bailey Griffin PE