In response to Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s environmental policy adviser, Rick Robinson’s “State Rules Wouldn’t Fix Nitrates” letter to The Des Moines Register on May 13.
Thanks to a capital investment made years ago and the dedicated work of our employees Des Moines Water Works continues to meet the needs of the 500,000 customers in the twenty communities we serve. However, the extreme levels of nitrates found in our water supply this year poses a significant threat to our customers. We feel it is time for Iowans to engage in a serious discussion about this growing problem.
Nitrate levels in both the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nitrate standard (10 mg/l – determined as the level protective of public health) this spring. There were more nitrates in those rivers last week than there were all of last year combined.
Des Moines Water Works relies primarily on the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers as sources for Central Iowa’s drinking water. Because unprecedented nitrate levels have affected both rivers concurrently, Des Moines Water Works activated its Nitrate Removal Facility last Friday to keep finished drinking water below EPA standards. This facility, constructed in 1992 for $3.6 million, costs $7,000 per day to operate. Ratepayers fund the cost of constructing, maintaining and operating this facility.
We agree with one thing Rick Robinson of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation wrote, “if we all do our part – farmers, homeowners, businesses and communities – we will have a positive impact on Iowa’s watershed.” Where we diverge is that we do not believe everyone is doing their part to protect Iowa’s waterways.
Des Moines Water Works had the foresight to build a denitrification facility. DMWW has not had to operate it since 2007, but this is largely because DMWW has invested millions of additional dollars in additional treatment options to provide denitrification since 2007. It is misleading for a person to suggest the denitrification facility’s lack of use during recent years is proof nitrate levels have been lower than they have been in past years. DMWW has been able to avoid the costly operation of the facility because of other actions and investments it has made.
The heart of Des Moines Water Works’ mission is protecting public health. We can no longer work quietly while source waters continue to be severely polluted by upstream land practices. This should not be a sterile discussion influenced only by data and statistics—although ample alarming data and statistics exist. Nitrates pose serious health risks. It is increasingly costly for Des Moines Water Works to remove nitrates through treatment processes to meet necessary EPA standards.
There is simply no disputing surface water is significantly impacted by certain types of land use – the primary land uses in our upstream watersheds are agricultural related. Chemical fertilizers applied to fields are exacerbated by field drainage tiles, allowing run off to reach rivers and streams quickly and without the benefit of natural filtration and, this year, plant uptake.
In addition to exceptional levels of nitrates, high levels of ammonia and phosphorus, algae blooms, and increasing levels of bacteria are all deteriorating water quality in Iowa. The recently published Nutrient Reduction Strategy supported by many prominent State leaders, including Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Governor’s office, is inadequate in that it lacks regulation, goals, measurable outcomes, or timelines for reducing agricultural (non-point) discharges. We advocate regulation through EPA-endorsed numeric standards by watershed—an approach with local emphasis that considers the current state of each watershed and does not force a one-size-fits-all approach.
Facing the reality of the degrading water quality and open meaningful discussion to identify solutions is long overdue.
Iowans should demand state leaders address improving and protecting owa’s water sources. State funding to support monitoring of nitrate pollutants should not be stripped away from the flood center of Iowa, an objective guardian if Iowa’s rivers and streams. Without significant action, Des Moines Water Works will be forced to continue treating degraded source waters, and our customers will continue to pay for that extensive treatment in their rates. With bold and innovative action, Des Moines Water Works believes healthy source waters and agriculture can co-exist. They must—both are critical to Iowa’s future.
Water Works Board of Trustees:
Graham Gillette, Chair
David A. Carlson, Vice Chair
Leslie A. Gearhart, Trustee
Susan R. Huppert, Trustee
Marc R. Wallace, Trustee
William G. Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO & General ManagerLabels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Nitrate, Nitrate Removal Facility
One of the world’s largest collections of flowering crabapple trees can be found at Water Works Park, and will be in full bloom this week. Visitors may drive or walk through the Arie den Boer Arboretum between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. to view the colorful display of 1,200 crabapple trees, located in the northeast corner of Water Works Park, off of Fleur Drive.
The Arie den Boer Arboretum was established in 1930, and contains over 350 varieties of flowering crabapple trees, including some varieties that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.Labels: Arie den Boer Arboretum, Crabapple Bloom, crabapple trees, Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Water Works Park
Des Moines Water Works is pleased to offer a low-cost water service line coverage program now available through HomeServe. This coverage offers protection for water service line breaks for single-family residents in the City of Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works’ total service areas. This program is voluntary and offers customers additional choices. The decision to participate is entirely yours.
Q: What am I responsible for?
A: As a homeowner, you are responsible for your water service line, from Des Moines Water Works water main to the water meter inside your home. The decision to insure this risk is entirely yours.
Q: How does the coverage plan work?
A: Step 1: In the event of a home emergency, just call HomeServe toll-free at 1-855-695-1493.
Step 2: A local, licensed and insured plumber will be dispatched to your home to make your repair or replacement.
Step 3: Once covered repairs are completed, just sign the repair form and HomeServe pays the plumber directly for you.
Q: What is included in the Water Service Line Coverage Plan?
A: You will be covered for qualified costs to repair or replace the broken or leaking exterior water service line, from the water meter inside your home to the Des Moines Water Works water main, including the cost to repair the exterior shut-off valve. This includes all service call charges, labor and materials for covered repairs, and basic restoration – so you’ll have no bill to pay for covered repairs. HomeServe coverage also covers situations where a customer’s meter is located in an outside meter pit, covering the line from DMWW’s main to the point where the line enters the building.
Q: How much does it cost and where do I send my payment?
A: The coverage costs $3.99 a month. Customers who sign up will be billed directly on their monthly Des Moines Water Works bill.
Q: How can I obtain more information and/or purchase the HomeServe policy?
A: You can contact HomeServe directly at 1-855-695-1493 or go to www.homeserveusa.com for more information. Sign up for coverage at www.dmwaterplans.com.
Over 2,000 fifth grade students from 40 schools across the state of Iowa will celebrate water at the 17th Annual Iowa Children’s Water Festival. The Water Festival is a free, fun, instructive day filled with opportunities to educate and celebrate Iowa’s most valuable resource – water. All activities will be held on the Des Moines Area Community College-Ankeny Campus on Thursday, May 9, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m.
The Iowa Children’s Water Festival is designed as an opportunity for students to enjoy a fun-filled day while learning all aspects of water – including water quality, wise-water usage practices, safety and recreation. Students participate in hands-on learning activities, presented by a variety of water professionals, representing government agencies, environmental organizations, higher education and private businesses.
“Students participate in various activities that engages and empowers them to protect Iowa’s water resources,” said Laura Sarcone, Festival Coordinator. “Before they realize it, students are talking about aquifers, surface waters, run-off, watersheds, the water cycle and more.”
The Iowa Children’s Water Festival is sponsored by Iowa Association of Water Agencies (IAWA) and coordinated by several local and state agencies, including Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa DNR, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Iowa Rural Water Association and West Des Moines Water Works.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Iowa Children's Water Festival
If you’re looking for a way to get healthier, a new program from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in partnership with Des Moines Water Works and several Iowa organizations, provides you resources and recognition for spending more time outdoors.
The Healthy & Happy Outdoors initiative, or H2O, connects you to Iowa’s natural resources and helps you enjoy an active lifestyle.
It’s easy to get started:
- Register online at www.iowadnr.gov/h2o.
- Get outside. Log your outdoor recreation activities on the H2O website.
- Need some recommendations? Find more than 1,600 recreation locations across the state in an interactive map (including Water Works Park and Maffitt Reservoir Park) along with suggestions for outdoor opportunities you might enjoy.
- Win prizes! Each activity you log counts as an entry for regular drawings of outdoor-themed prizes, with a first-year celebration of H2O at the Iowa State Fair in August 2013.
The DNR and the program’s partners aim to have 1,000 participants sign up for H2O in the first year, and 50,000 participants by 2016. Program partners include the Healthiest State Initiative, Des Moines Water Works, Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department of Transportation, and Iowa Tourism Office.
“Our goal is to help Iowans increase mental and physical health through outdoor recreation in Iowa’s natural spaces,” said Chuck Gipp, DNR Director.
The H2O website will continually grow with tips, healthy resources, additional activities and more. You can also help improve the map – if you visit a recreation area not shown on the map, just include it in your activity log and the H2O team will add it.
Des Moines Water Works is pleased to be a part of this exciting initiative. Get healthy and happy outdoors today!Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Healthy & Happy Outdoors, Healthy and Happy Outdoors, Iowa DNR
Here’s an exciting opportunity for river enthusiasts! Plan to participate in Iowa Rivers Revival’s “Master River Steward Program” in the Des Moines/Raccoon River Watershed. This will be Iowa Rivers Revival’s second year offering this program. The eight week course, beginning May 14, will focus on riverine systems, including skills to paddle and navigate rivers, restore aquatic habitat, improve water quality, and understand policies related to floodplains, river protection and restoration.
The “Master River Steward Program” will build on a network of river experts in various partner agencies and organizations. It will help adult learners collaborate to protect and improve Iowa’s rivers, so that current and future generations can enjoy these resources. Visit Iowa Rivers Revival’s website to view an outline of last year’s program: http://iowarivers.org/education/river-stewards/.
Registration Cost: Participants will pay a fee of $50 which will include program materials. Participants will be expected to attend each session and there will be “homework” assignments following each class – materials will be provided. Please register by April 30, 2013.
Feedback from 2012 Pilot Participants:
- “Great class, thoroughly enjoyed each and every session.”
- “Great leadership. Great resources/readings. Great speakers. Great group.”
- “Really enjoyed class. Had zero expectations coming in. Was surprised by the amount of river experience/Project AWARE tie in. Really enjoyed meeting such passionate people. Each week gave me something to think about and discuss with co-workers.”
- “This was a fantastic program. I came in with no expectations, but left every night excited to share what I learned with others… Thanks so much for putting this together. I will become active in the stewardship of rivers at a far greater level due to this program.”
For more information and to register, contact:
Rosalyn Lehman, Executive Director
Iowa Rivers Revival
PO Box 72, Des Moines, IA 50301
Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR) is Iowa’s only statewide river education and advocacy organization committed to protecting one of our most precious natural resources – our rivers and streams. Since 2007, IRR has been working to engage individuals, organizations, communities and our government leaders in river awareness, responsibility and enjoyment in an effort to improve and enhance the condition of Iowa’s waterways – ensuring a quality, safe and lasting resource for future generations.
The Center on Sustainable Communities, Des Moines Water Works, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Metro Waste Authority and MidAmerican Energy will honor six organizations with Environmental Impact Awards at a luncheon on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The awards program will take place from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge, 2500 Grand Avenue, West Des Moines.
The Environmental Impact Awards were established in 2011to recognize organizations and leaders who exemplify environmentally sustainable practices. The 2013 Award Winners are:
Built Environment (presented by Center on Sustainable Communities)
Business (presented by Greater Des Moines Partnership)
Civic (presented by Metro Waste Authority)
- Government Body: City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation
- Non-governmental Organization: Iowa Legal Aid
Two organizations will receive special recognition for excellence in water management and energy efficiency at the May 15 luncheon. These excellence awards are provided by Des Moines Water Works and MidAmerican Energy, respectively.
Tickets for the luncheon are $25 per person and registration is available online at www.icosc.com.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Environmental Impact Awards
On May 11, The Move Project will host The Water Ride, a bicycle ride that raises funds for clean water projects in Africa. Starting and ending at Mullets, riders have the option to ride 20, 40 or 85 miles.
The Move Project is a non-profit organization that focuses on the alleviation of poverty, freeing slaves, providing shelter to the homeless and food and water to those without access to these life essentials. Des Moines Water Works is The Water Ride’s sponsor this year, covering all costs associated with the ride.
“This event is powerful in that 100% of the funds raised on this ride will go directly to providing clean water to a community in Africa. Having access to clean water affords individuals and families the opportunity to receive an education, work and live a healthier life,” said Sam Mahlstadt, co-founder of The Move Project.
“The Water Ride elevates our community’s awareness of the inaccessibility of water in other countries, as well as celebrates our local drinking water quality,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “The Water Ride is a great way to culminate our National Drinking Water Week festivities and emphasize the value of drinking water to a community’s overall health.”
Sign up by going to www.thewaterride.eventbrite.com by May 3, to receive a t-shirt at the event.
“When I took a summer off last year to ride my bicycle across America for clean water projects in Kenya, I realized how easy it is to tie in a passion to benefit others. If riding a bike for half a day could transform a community, there’s no question about signing up,” said Emily Boyd, co-founder of The Water Ride.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, The Move Project, The Water Ride
Des Moines Water Works celebrates public health during National Public Health Week (April 1-7, 2013), a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation. In a world where an estimated 3 million people die every year from preventable waterborne disease, our water systems allow us to drink from virtually any public tap with a high assurance of safety. Each community water supply meets rigorous federal and state health protective standards.
Drinking water quality has a major influence on public health. Improvements in drinking water quality have dramatically improved the public’s health in the United States. However, some old challenges remain and new ones are emerging. Access to plentiful healthy source waters treated for drinking water are becoming limited by the increased presence of contaminants, new and more stringent regulations, and aging infrastructure. The public costs to safeguard our drinking water supply will be high without changes in land use that prevents the continued increase of contaminants from reaching our water sources, but the costs associated with failing to do so are likely to be much higher.
Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is committed to protecting public health by assessing water quality in the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds and mitigating the public’s exposure to contaminantsthrough treatment.We work with landowners to help identify appropriate barriers for controlling contaminants that do not focus on expensive treatment processes, but rather consider a range of options that may result in improved water quality and in our ability to ensure quality drinking water after treatment. This is a holistic approach of managing water resources from our source to your tap.
For 40 years, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) has been the regulation by which drinking water utilities adhere to, to protect public health. When the SDWA became law in 1974 it required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set enforceable standards for health-related drinking water contaminants. The SDWA has been reauthorized in 1986 and 1996. In fact, the drinking water industry is one of the most regulated industries in the United States. In addition to meeting EPA drinking water standards, DMWW is proactively monitoring emerging contaminants that may require regulations in the future.
Protecting public health is the reason that the drinking water industry exists. The public health effects of current and future contaminants is the motivation behind the need for sustainable infrastructure, skilled operators, technical expertise, leadership and improvement and protection of the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds.
Des Moines Water Works is a sponsor for City of Des Moines’ 2013 Trash Bash on Friday, April 19. This year’s event is dedicated to improving Iowa’s waterways and water quality. Teams of volunteers will kick-off the event at Nollen Plaza, where DMWW will have an educational booth and the DSMH2O Mobile Water Station for visitors to fill up their reusable water bottles! Trash Bash volunteers will then set out to pick up trash in various locations around the city, including Water Works Park.
Last year, over 1,000 volunteers on 64 teams in 50 project locations removed over 24,000 pounds of litter, brush & recyclables as well as beautified our public lands, cleaned up storm damage, and cleared away invasive species in an effort to improve Iowa’s water quality and waterways. They even collected 37.7 pounds of cigarette butts.
Volunteers are needed for Iowa’s largest Earth Day volunteer event to continue these efforts! For more information, visit http://www.dmgov.org/Departments/Parks/Pages/TrashBash.aspx and sign up by March 29, 2013.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines Water Works Green Iniative, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Earth Day, Trash Bash