Waukee, Iowa, is a quite suburb nestled just outside Des Moines. To fill a need for aquatic recreation, therapy and competition, the community partnered with the local YMCA.

In developing the facility, the design team applied several innovative and eco-friendly features to reduce energy usage and accommodate various age groups. Incorporated into the design was reducing the building footprint and volume by selecting specific pool heaters and a well thought out mechanical room layout plan. Water’s Edge Aquatic Design engineers performed a cost analysis to recognize the difference in costs between this forward thinking design, versus traditional design tendencies. Additionally, the selected regenerative media filters using a perlite filter media can achieve water clarity equal to that of a DE filter with less building footprint and less negative impact on the environment and sewer systems.

As the primary heat source, the facility uses waste heat from the dehumidification system and return it to heat the pool. A supplementary heat source makes use of the Sentry Pool Heater that uses a series of high efficiency heater units. The selection of this recently developed pool heating system allows for reduced energy usage as well as reduced maintenance and operation costs.

Waters Edge Aquatic Design staff designed for the recirculation pumps to operate at variable speeds based on the minimum flow rate. Basically, the recirculation flows are automatically adjusted to achieve a specified set point. The use of a Variable Frequency Drive on the pump allows for the recirculation system to operate at a minimum flow rate as opposed to operating a pump at full speed and throttling a valve to achieve flow as is traditionally done. This design allows for energy savings.

A low pressure UV system was selected to control harmful chloramines that are detrimental to patron health as well as the health of the building structure. The low pressure UV uses substantially less energy than other types of UV systems currently available.

Low wattage overhead lighting fixtures were designed into the project to reduce the electrical energy load of the facility.

The Waukee community and Waukee YMCA wished for a two pool concept. The final concept was designed for the diversified audience and multiple uses with the Waukee YMCA incorporating recreational swimming, exercise classes, swimming lessons, competition swimming and competition events. Special design considerations include a learner’s platform for small children and ADA accessible features.

Overall costs were certainly taken into consideration. Water’s Edge Aquatic Design staff used cast-in-place concrete construction of the pool which provided better quality at a lower cost than the alternatives. The equipment such as overhead light fixtures, variable frequency drives on recirculation pump motors and filters require less water wasted during regeneration compared to more traditional filters. Design staff also reduced the pool mechanical space to reduce future HVAC costs of the building.

This design has proved to be efficient and effective for the Waukee community. Programming has been easy with the added amenities and the three-pool concept design.


Opened: 2009

Cost: N/A

Aquatic space: 15,753 square feet

Dream amenities: ADA ramp and lift; therapy water bench; floatable toys and basketball goal; 1- and 3-meter diving boards; 8-25yrd racing lanes with starting platforms; toddler slide and spray elements


  • Dream Designer: Water’s Edge Aquatic Design
  • Architect: SVPA Architects
  • Consulting Architect: Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture
  • Civil Engineer: Engineering Resource Group
  • Mechanical and Electrical Design Build Contractor: Wolin and Associates


  • Chemtrol: Chemical controllers
  • Duraflex International, Tail Wind: Competition equipment
  • Grate Technologies of Lawson Aquatics: Gutter grating only
  • ITT Marlow: Pumps
  • Kiefer:Lane lines
  • Lithonia Lighting: Lighting
  • Natural Structures: Water slides
  • Neptune-Benson Defender: Filtration
  • Paragon Aquatics: Ladders/grab bars, competition equipment
  • RehaMed International: ADA lift
  • Sentry Indirect Fire Pool Heater: Heater
  • Stenner Pump: Sanitization
  • Water Odyssey: Water-play equipment