Archive for June, 2011June 30, 2011
Are you a walker, jogger or biker in search of interesting places to exercise? Consider Des Moines Water Works Park. Nestled just a few minutes from downtown Des Moines and directly across from Grays Lake, it is a fabulous place to enjoy the outdoors. The park offers the arboretum with a beautiful fountain, countless varieties of crab apples that bloom in the spring, tons of beautiful flowers and a gazebo to offer shade when it’s hot.
Many are familiar with the ‘visible’ areas of the park. The real fun can often be found off the beaten path. Just off George Flagg Parkway (formerly named Valley Drive), you will find the iron bridge. Cars are not allowed across the bridge, so you can enjoy a quite nature walk. If you continue a short ways north of the bridge, you will notice the horses from the stables. They will often greet you by rushing to the fence. If you continue on this path, you will eventually cross over the Raccoon River and head into the South of Grand area. At this point you have multiple choices; to continue on to 63rd and Grand, veer to the west to head into West Des Moines or to the east to head into Greenwood Park. Crossing the bridge is just one of the many options for walking paths in the park.
Routine walkers in the park know they may encounter new experiences each day. Bald eagles have been seen nesting along the east/west road. Deer, wild turkeys, countless bird varieties, snakes, frogs, and turtles round out some of the wildlife regularly seen on or along the paths. A variety of water fowl and their babies can be found waddling along the ponds. But if nature is not your bag, strike up a conversation with visitors in the park. There are always people fishing that are more than happy to tell their fish stories.
The park is flat, ideal for the leisurely walker. The park is vast, ideal for the serious walker. The park is fun, ideal for anyone. Pick your desired distance, lace up your shoes and enjoy the park.
The North Wing Gallery and Show House Corridor are mini art galleries which are open to the public to enjoy while they view the beautiful dome and lush outside gardens. This art work changes every few months and is for sale with the proceeds benefiting the Botanical Center.
Currently in the North Wing Gallery is a display of 40 large color photographs by Friends Director, Elvin McDonald. Elvin has had the opportunity to visit professional and amateur gardens all over the world which has resulted in a wonderful portfolio of photographs. The images he chose for this display best tell the story of his life in the garden.
The Show House Corridor is showcasing the delightful flower images of Omaha artist April Kelly. Her art represents beauty, energy, and light; her work is refreshing and happy. April’s work is acrylic on canvas and she uses a special finish to give the work an illusion of a glass coating.
We hope you look for this art work when you visit the Botanical Center.
Have you visited the Des Moines Botanical and Environmental Center lately? This is the perfect time to enjoy all of the outdoor gardens at the Center.
Approximately 13,000 annuals were recently planted on the grounds, and many enhancements have been made.
The perennial gardens that were planted along the entrance sidewalks are in their second year and are looking spectacular. The last two year’s weather has really pushed these plants to mature size and bloom levels.
A popular spot for weddings, the gazebo has been adorned with a couple new flowerbeds. Last year a large donated collection of Bearded Iris, Siberian Iris, Daylily, and Asiatic Lilies was added, and that area has been full of color since March and should continue until frost. Numerous varieties of annuals were planted in the area in front of the gazebo, formally known as the herb garden, to add more color. The new and improved herb garden was moved to the east side of the building and replanted by the Des Moines Herb Society.
Finally, the Buck Rose collection has been expanded and now contains 80+ varieties, making the Botanical Center the site of one of the largest collections of these roses in the nation. (The late Dr. Griffith Buck developed the hardy, fragrant roses at Iowa State University.)
Are you looking for a fun, relaxing outdoor activity? Grab your fishing pole, tackle box and lawn chair and head to Water Works Park to try your luck at fishing. With the scenic surroundings, even if the fish aren’t biting, you’ll certainly enjoy the solitude and beauty of nature.
Fishing has always been a favorite pastime in Water Works Park. The park offers a multitude of perfect fishing spots, whether it is along the banks of the Raccoon River that winds through the park or one of the 12 ponds.
A variety of fish species can be found in the waterways that inhabit the park — bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, bullhead, and carp, to name a few. The ponds are adequately stocked with fish due to the frequent flooding of the Raccoon River. Also, this past May the Iowa DNR released 10,000 “keeper” size bullheads in the ponds for the Hy-Vee Fishing Derby, and rumor has it that many of those fish are still there.
Both the river and the ponds are accessible to the public during normal park hours. Patrons must abide by the Iowa Fishing Regulations, as posted on the Iowa DNR’s website: http://www.iowadnr.gov/law/regs/regs_fish.pdf
Do you have a favorite fishing spot in Water Works Park?
Ahhhhhhh, remember the hot summer days as a kid when you’d quench your thirst by getting a drink from the garden hose? You may have heard in your adult years that this isn’t such a good idea. The reasoning behind this is that many garden hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which uses lead as a stabilizer. When water sits in a PVC hose, lead can leach into the water in concentrations that, according to tests conducted by Consumer Reports, can reach 10 to 100 times the allowable lead levels. PVC hoses often carry a warning to consumers but unfortunately they are often printed in a microscopic font or on the underside of the label. Lead is a huge health threat that is particularly hazardous for children under the age of six.
The impact of watering gardens with lead-laced water on a regular basis is questionable. Plants don’t generally absorb lead unless there is a high concentration of it in the soil.
The good news is you can buy hoses that are lead free. They are made with FDA-approved materials and are labeled “drink-safe,” or “safe for potable water”. And remember, even if you have a “drink-safe” hose, let the water run until it’s cold before you drink from it, because bacteria can grow in warm standing water.
Iowa One Call services are free and telephones are answered 24 hours a day. Utilities, including Des Moines Water Works, have 48 hours following a request to locate any underground facilities they have in the area and mark their location with flags or painted lines. After the excavation area has been marked, you will be able to avoid any underground services, preventing a loss of vital services and added expenses for repairs.
Iowa law applies to professional contractors as well as homeowners, and encompasses a wide array of outdoor projects including:
- Installing a fence
- Planting trees or shrubs
- Building a patio, addition, deck, garage, outdoor shed or any similar structure that requires any form of digging
- Putting in a new driveway
- Installing a septic system or water drainage system
- Terracing or landscaping
Call 811 or 1-800-292-8989 before you dig. It’s fast, it’s free, it’s the law! You can also access important information at www.iowaonecall.com.
Des Moines Water Works, working in partnership with Iowa State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture, is excited to announce the launch of “Parkitecture,” an international design competition for Water Works Park. The competition, aptly named for its emphasis on the role landscape architecture and design play in re‐envisioning Water Works Park, will seek proposals from professional designers and will offer students the opportunity to submit design concepts in an honorarium category. Water Works Park, a 1,500‐acre park in the heart of Des Moines, has provided the main water supply for the city since the early 1900s and is a major component of the city’s open space system and trail network.
“The goal of the design competition is to draw awareness to the rich identity of Water Works Park and the value of the Raccoon River in serving the needs of Central Iowans,” said Ted Corrigan, Director of Water Distribution and Grounds for Des Moines Water Works. “The competition is intended to generate discussion about watershed issues and best practices and offer innovative design solutions to address ecological and recreational challenges specific to Water Works Park” (e.g., prone to frequent flooding)” he said. Through this visioning process, Des Moines Water Works would like to:
- Limit the impact of flooding on park features
- Restore the character of the Arie den Boer Crabapple Arboretum
- Provide opportunities for memorials and donations to the park
- Enhance vehicular and pedestrian circulation in the park and provide a visually appealing experience for both
- Improve parking throughout the site
- Separate park and operational activities, and
- Enhance the entrance to the park
What makes this design competition even more notable is DMWW’s partnership with Iowa State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture. Faculty and students provided much of the research and work to develop the competition through a service learning curriculum. Thirty‐two Iowa State University students in the Landscape Architecture 401 Professional Practice course, taught by Associate Professor Carl Rogers, worked this past spring semester to collect current and historical site information on Water Works Park and develop the competition brief. They also designed the website for registration and proposal submission.
“The partnership between the Department of Landscape Architecture and Des Moines Water Works has enabled landscape architecture students to learn first‐hand how a design project is conceived from the perspective of both the client and the user,” Rogers said. “The design competition will showcase the park and provide Des Moines Water Works and the City of Des Moines a new perspective of the role the park plays in the form of the city,” he said.
More details about the design competition can be found at http://parkitecture.design.iastate.edu.
Tell us what you think…what elements or ideas do you have that you’d like to see woven into the redesign of Water Works Park?
Water is a necessity and nothing is more convenient than having clean, safe Des Moines Water Works tap water straight from the faucet. However, water related accidents do happen. Follow these safety reminders to help keep your family safe from water accidents:
• Water spills on slick floor surfaces can cause someone to slip and fall. Be sure to wipe up spills right away. Keep people (and pets!) away from freshly mopped floors.
• Small children should never be left alone in bath water, not even for a minute. Children can drown from less than an inch of water. Do not allow distractions such as the doorbell or telephone to take you away from a small child who is bathing.
• Water and electricity do not mix. Do not put electrical appliances near standing water.
• Do not let unattended children play near pools, ponds or streams. Residences with pools are required to have fences and homeowners should keep doors and gates locked when the pool is not in use.
• Turn the water heater down so that hot water from the faucet cannot cause burns or you may want to investigate the possibility of installing a scald control faucet. However, it is important to keep the water temperature at 130 degrees Fahrenheit to stifle bacteria growth in the water heater.
• Do not walk away from a stove that has boiling liquids. Keep pan handles turned so they cannot be pulled down by a small child.
• If your child has a plastic wading pool, be sure to drain it and store it in an upright position after each use. Do not allow children to play in wading pools unsupervised.
• Check your water turn-off valves. Know how to use them in the case of an emergency.
• Periodically check your pipes for drips, plugs and leaks – before it becomes a bigger problem! If in doubt, seek a licensed professional for plumbing work.
I have been a professional photographer of high school seniors and weddings in the Des Moines area for almost 20 years now, but I also love taking photos of wildlife and nature. I have found that my favorite place to take pictures is Water Works Park. The park is filled with gifts from nature that create interesting and varied backdrops.
For nature shots, spring is breathtaking when all the crabapple trees are blooming. If you enjoy close-up photography, the blossoms will not disappoint. Summer is beautiful with all the colorful gardens scattered throughout the park. Water backdrops are always great in any photo, and the ponds in Water Works Park make for a great scenic backdrop, especially if you can capture a duck or goose in the background. Vibrant autumn leaves, large fallen trees, and overgrown woods lend richness to photos in the fall season. After a new snowfall drapes everything in the winter, it’s wonderful to capture that peacefulness and quiet in a photo. In the early morning, you can find deer sleeping under the pines on a bed of needles. What a stunning photo!
If you are looking for the perfect spot for a family portrait, Water Works Park has several great opportunities. The Charles Sing Denman Memorial Fountain just inside Water Works Park is an easy favorite. Be sure to stop by the Arie Den Boer Arboretum where the gazebo is located. In addition to the beautiful flower garden, the wood rail fence adds rustic charm to any portrait.
Two of the most photographed areas in the park, and my personal favorites, are the old barn and the bridge. Both of these features are drenched with character that can only be shaped over many years. The rustic looks of both are great backdrops, whether shooting in color or black and white. Venturing a little beyond the bridge, you will find a lush green area with large trees, small wooden bridges, and another pond. Travel on the road father back and you’ll be rewarded with old stone chimneys left from old farm houses from years ago. In your travels throughout the park, don’t forget to stop and take advantage of photo opportunities using the Raccoon River. When the river is low, many sandbars are visible and the terrain is great for black and white photography.
There are so many great places in the park to use as backdrops for your favorite photos. I have found that with a good imagination and any camera you will take great pictures at Water Works Park. With all the gardens, buildings, wood rail fences, ponds, trees, and wildlife, you are sure to find something or somewhere in the park to use as a backdrop in your next photo.
Happy picture taking!!
At this time of year the legislators have generally wrapped up the state’s business and gone home. But 2011 finds them still haggling over the budget. Cuts in budget appropriations for the Departments of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and Natural Resources (DNR) could have potential impacts on the drinking water industry and the protection of water resources treated for drinking water.
The IDALS/DNR appropriation is less than 1% of the total state budget, yet they continue to experience severe budget cuts. These cuts will negatively impact services provided and increase the amount of response time to provide those services. Last year 63% of Iowa voters told legislators they wanted more money spent on the protection of Iowa’s water, land, and air resources (I Will Campaign). Instead, budgets for both departments have been cut again. Ramifications of the appropriation budget cuts could:
- Potentially increase fees paid by all Iowa drinking water utilities
- Delay flood plain mapping
- Delay evaluation of Iowa’s groundwater aquifers to project and ensure future water availability
- Reduce lake and ambient stream water quality sampling
- Reduce siting assistance and enforcement of livestock facility regulations
- Curtail watershed projects in the Des Moines and Raccoon River watersheds
Surface and ground water resources and drinking water infrastructure are owned by you, as a citizen of Iowa. You have charged the state (the governor and legislature) with improving and protecting Iowa’s water resources. You have charged each utility with the maintenance and protection of its infrastructure. Continued budget cuts and the lack of political will in discussing and acting on water quality and quantity issues needs to be addressed. Advocacy as a citizen is a powerful tool. Use it to ensure that your infrastructure and abundant water resources are improved and protected for future generations.