Archive for March, 2011

March 7, 2011

Des Moines Water Storage

Water towers are something most of us probably don’t think about until we see one on the horizon.  To Des Moines Water Works (DMWW), water storage facilities are a vital part of the infrastructure and a significant part of the utility’s history.  DMWW owns and maintains numerous water storage facilities.  From a technical standpoint, water storage facilities are divided into three categories:  water towers, standpipes and ground storage.  Water towers are basically large storage tanks on legs.  Standpipes are simply tall vertical tanks.  Ground storage reservoirs are shorter but larger diameter storage tanks that sit on or slightly below ground.

Des Moines’ first water storage facility was constructed in 1891 at 17th Street and Crocker.  Made of steel with a lacy ironwork railing and spiral stairway, it held 530,000 gallons of water.  It was torn down in 1939 after 40 years of service. 

The Hazen Tower at 4800 Hickman is the oldest and technically, the only water tower in Des Moines.  Constructed of concrete and steel in 1930-1931, the 110 foot tower, which holds 1.7 million gallons (mg) in its elevated tank, was named after Allen Hazen who designed the tower.  A prominent New York engineer and pioneer in the area of water treatment, he died before construction was completed.  For many years, a large arrow was painted on the top of the tower to point the way to the airport for pilots. 

In 1955, two standpipes were built and named after long-term Board of Water Works Trustees members.  The Nollen Standpipe at 26th and Hull is Des Moines’ largest, with a capacity of 4.2 mg.  The Wilchinski Standpipe at SE 9th and Pleasantview Drive stores slightly more than 2 mg.

Probably the most familiar is the Tenny standpipe because of its location near Sears at Merle Hay Mall.  Construction of this 4.1 mg water storage facility was completed in 1960 and named after Morris K. Tenny, who served as the General Manager of DMWW from 1955-1968.

Water storage facilities outside the city of Des Moines which are owned and operated by DMWW include two towers in Southeast Polk with a combined capacity of 0.7mg.  The smaller tower (0.3 mg) located at 6538 NE 12th Ave., is scheduled to be removed the summer of 2011.  Other facilities in Polk County include the Polk County Ground Storage Tank on NE 14th St.  which holds 5 mg; the L.P. Moon Ground Storage Facility (named after a former Board member) in Clive stores 6 mg and the Shared East Side Elevated Storage Tank, which holds 2.5 mg, was built in 2009-2010, bordering between Pleasant Hill and Altoona.  (Interestingly enough, Pleasant Hill’s logo is on the south side of the facility and Altoona’s is on the north side).

Posted by: Pat Ripley 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, History March 4, 2011

Just the Facts – Chlorine Q&A

Q: What is chlorine?

Chlorine is a disinfectant DMWW adds to the water to kill or inactivate microbiological organisms.

Q: Why do we use chlorine?

DMWW uses chlorine to disinfect the water and keep it clean and safe as it travels though the distribution system. This can be done in a variety of ways, but DMWW uses liquid chlorine (sodium hypochlorite solution) and injects it into our water as it enters the clear well, our 10 million gallon reservoir located on the treatment plant property. Chlorine is a strong oxidizer that either kills or inactivates microbiological contaminants.

Q. How much chlorine do we put into the water?

As a surface water plant, we must maintain at least a 0.3 milligrams per liter (mg/l) level to the distribution system. The amount added each day varies with how much chlorine-consuming material is in the water, but is kept above the 0.3 mg/l requirement.

Q: What are the health effects?

When chlorine reacts with the organic material present in the raw water, a group of chemicals called trihalomethanes (THMs) may form. This by-product has some health concerns and is closely regulated. The current EPA maximum limit is 80 parts per billion (ppb). Water from the Des Moines Water Works distribution system typically runs in the 30 to 40 ppb range. Some people who drink water containing THMs in excess of the maximum limit over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. It is important to remember that this risk is small when compared to the risks associated with drinking water that has not been disinfected.

For more information, call Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700 or visit For additional information, call the SAFE DRINKING WATER HOTLINE: 1-800-426-4791.

Want more Just the Facts? Visit:

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in Health, Water Quality, Water Treatment March 3, 2011

A Greener Water Works

Des Moines Water Works has a long history of striving to be environmentally responsible.  Our forefathers believed strongly in protecting the water quality of our river sources, and as such acquired the land that is today Water Works Park and Maffitt Reservoir.  Through the decades, our employees have also invested in upgrading our infrastructure to make it more energy efficient, like installing energy efficient pumps and motors at our water treatment plants and remote pumping facilities.

Last year, Des Moines Water Works formed its first official “Green Team” in March of 2010.  This team is made up of employees from each department within the utility.  Their mission is “to serve as a liaison to employees and customers, communicating, promoting, and implementing sustainability and stewardship initiatives that demonstrate environmental responsibility to the community.”

One of the first activities of the Green Team was to expand DMWW’s recycling program to the new single-stream recycling now available.  As part of that project, additional recycling bins have been located to make it easier for employees to recycle and in some departments the number of trash cans have been reduced.  DMWW is also recycling batteries, ink cartridges, computer equipment, cell phones, light bulbs, used oil and oil filters, anti-freeze, tires, scrap metal (including old hydrants, valves, and pipe), and concrete from main breaks.

Des Moines Water Works is also participating in the first Sustainability Circle in Des Moines.  As part of this program conducted by Natural Capitalism, Inc., DMWW is working with six other organizations in the metro area to learn ways to reduce waste and save money.  We believe strongly in doing our part to protect the environment both now and for future generations.

DMWW’s Green Team has a variety of projects planned for 2011 and beyond to help create a more environmentally responsible workplace and utility for its employees and community.

Posted by: Jenny Puffer No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Des Moines Water Works Park, Employees, Environment, Green Initiatives March 1, 2011

Saylorville Water Treatment Plant Update

Des Moines Water Works’ newest treatment plant, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant, is now operational, in manual mode, and pumping finished drinking water into the distribution system.  The oxidation of iron and manganese in the pretreatment basin is working well.  The oxidized iron and manganese are then removed by the ultrafiltration (UF) process.  Part of the UF treated water then goes through the reverse osmosis (RO) process where hardness and other dissolved constituents like nitrate are removed.  The remaining UF treated water is then blended with the RO treated water and the mixed waters flow into the finished water clearwell.  Fluoride is added and chlorine is added for disinfection.  The plant is being operated manually for eight hours each day until all control programming is completed and the plant can be operated from the Control Center at Fleur Drive Treatment Plant.

Posted by: Gary Benjamin 5 Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant, Water Treatment