Archive for December, 2011

December 27, 2011

Don’t Get Caught Dirty Handed

Winter has crept into town, accompanied by its usual partner, the cold and flu season.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the easiest and least expensive ways to prevent the spread of infectious minor diseases, like colds and flu, as well as some pretty serious ones like hepatitis A, meningitis and infectious diarrhea, is to frequently wash your hands. With a price tag of less than a penny, hand washing is certainly a cheap way to avoid a pricey visit to the doctor.

Disease is spread when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with hands that have been exposed to germs.  In fact, one of the most common ways people catch colds is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with the cold virus.

According to a 2005 survey conducted by the American Society for Microbiology, 91 percent of adults say they always wash their hands after using public restrooms; however just 83 percent were observed doing so.  Americans also say they always wash their hands after using the bathroom in their home (83 percent) and before handling or eating foods (77 percent).  However, smaller percentages of Americans always wash after petting a dog or cat (42 percent), after coughing or sneezing (32 percent), or after handling money (21 percent).

When should you wash your hands?  Often.  Probably more often than you do now.  Germs are odorless and invisible to the naked eye.  It is especially important to wash your hands before, during and after you prepare food; before you eat; after you use the restroom; after handling animals or animal waste; and even more frequently when someone in your home is sick.

The manner in which you wash is also critical.  Rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces with soap and warm water for a minimum of 15-20 seconds to dislodge and remove germs.  Following these tips at home, work and school, can help you stay cold-and flu-free this winter!

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Health December 21, 2011

Water 101: How Much Do You Know About H2O?

Take this quiz to find out how much you know about H2O!

1.  What percent of the earth’s surface is water?
a. about 50%  
b. about 75%  
c. about 97%
2.  Of all the water on earth, how much is available to use for drinking water?
a. 25%             
b. 3%              
c. 1%

3.  About how much does one gallon of water weigh? 
a. 4 lbs.  
b. 8 lbs.   
c. 10 lbs.

4.  What two rivers does Des Moines Water Works use to make drinking water?
a. Des Moines and Skunk 
b. Raccoon and Iowa 
c. Des Moines and Raccoon

5.  What is the longest a human could live without water?
a. one day  
b. one week  
c. one month

6.  About how much of the human body is water?
a. 95%   
b. 80%   
c. 65%

7.  What uses the most water in households each day?
a. laundry  
b. showers  
c. flushing the toilet

8.  What percent of water in homes is used for drinking purposes?
a. 2%   
b. 10%   
c. 20% 

9.  What is the longest river in the world?
a. Mississippi
b. Amazon  
c. Nile

10.  How thick does ice have to be to hold an average-sized human?
a. 2”   
b. 4”   
c. 6”

11.  About how many gallons of water will run down the drain if you leave a faucet on for one minute?
a. 5   
b. 3   
c. 8 

12.  How many gallons of water does the average American use for a five-minute shower? 
a. 20   
b. 30   
c. 40

13.   How much water does it take to make a can of pop? 
a. 1 gallon  
b. 5 gallons  
c. 10 gallons  

14.   What makes hard water “hard?”
a.  Low temperatures 
b. minerals 
c. heat and pressure 

15.  The gradual wearing away of soil by water is called __________.
a. combustion  
b. precipitation  
c. erosion

1. b
2. c
3. b
4. c
5. b
6. c
7. c
8. a
9. c
10. b
11. a
12. b
13. c
14. b
15. c

Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Education December 19, 2011

Sharing the Responsibility for Quality Water Service

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) provides water to its customers and maintains the water mains required to deliver water to homes and businesses.  DMWW also owns the water meter used to measure consumption.  Property owners are responsible for the connection (tap) to the water main and the piping (service line) that carries water from the main to the meter.  The property owner is also responsible for protecting and providing access to the water meter.  When a problem occurs, DMWW staff will assist the property owner in determining the cause of the problem and the appropriate course of action.


What is a stop box?

The stop box houses the valve used to turn the water service on and off to a property.  It is usually located in the public right of way.  DMWW requires that the stop box be operable at all times.

Who owns the stop box?

The property owner owns the stop box and is responsible for its repair.

How does the stop box operate?

To operate the stop box, a long key is placed inside the housing and lowered onto the valve to turn the water service on or off.  Sometimes, due to age or damage, the stop box does not operate, requiring repair.

Why is the stop box operated?

DMWW will operate the stop box:

  • to terminate service at the owner’s request when a property is sold.
  • to cut water service for internal plumbing repairs.
  • at a rental property to discontinue water service when the tenant is moving.
  • when a customer fails to make timely payment on their water bill.

Sometimes a stop box needs to be repaired. What are the reasons for repair?

  • When the stop box is too high or too low. The top of the stop box should be level with the ground.
  • If the stop box is located under concrete or asphalt, a repair must be made so that the stop box is accessible.
  • If the housing for the stop box becomes bent and the key cannot be lowered into the housing.
  • If the rod is loose in the stop box and does not connect to the valve.
  • When the valve does not operate.’

Who will make the repairs?

DMWW is not licensed to make plumbing repairs and we recommend that you contract the services of a licensed plumber.  If you do not make repair arrangements, DMWW will contract the services of a plumber and bill the charges to your account.

How much will it cost for repairs?

The cost will depend on the work required to make the repair.

What if my service line starts to leak?

Please notify DMWW if you notice water leaking and our representative will assist in determining the location of the leak.  Sometimes it is difficult to determine the source of the leaking water as it follows the path of least resistance and does not always come to the surface right near the leak.  Once located, the property owner will be notified to contact a licensed plumber to make repairs to the leaking service line.

What if my service line starts to leak and water is not coming to the surface of the ground?

During our routine leak survey of the distribution system, using electronic leak detection equipment, leaks are sometimes located that don’t come to the surface.  Our leak detection personnel will attempt to determine the source of leaking water and inform you of its general location.

Who is responsible for the water meter?

The water meter is usually located in the basement or in a meter pit outside the building.  The property owner is responsible for protecting the meter from freezing temperatures and providing access to the meter and meter reading equipment.  The water meter is owned by DMWW.

If you need additional assistance, please call (515) 283-8771.

Posted by: Ted Corrigan 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Infrastructure December 15, 2011

Des Moines’ Best Kept Dining and Shopping Secrets

Riverwalk Café
You already know to visit the Des Moines Botanical Center to enjoy the warmth from the tropical plants, but did you know the Riverwalk Café inside the Botanical Center offers a delicious and affordable lunch menu?  No admission to the Botanical Center is required to dine at the Riverwalk Café!  Enjoy sandwiches, wraps, grilled sandwiches, pasta bowls, homemade soups good for the soul, and filling salads. The house specialty, and I do mean specialty, is the steak or chicken quesadilla, you will love it! I am ready for lunch, how about you?  The kiddos will favor the chicken strips or grilled cheese sandwich, served with chips and a drink. Top off lunch with a delicious homemade cookie, a sweet slice of sour cream coconut cake or a yummy brownie. Eat in or call ahead and take it with you.  Groups of 10 or more: check out the delivery menu that includes breakfast packages, box lunches and signature tray packages. 

Garden Gate Gift Shop
With less than two weeks to buy it, wrap it and tag it, you need to get shopping today!  We invite you to visit the Botanical Center’s Garden Gate Gift Shop for unique gifts for everyone on your list. Find a splendid inventory of jewelry, books, plants and keepsakes. Surprising and fun gifts for kids and tweens, practical and meaningful gifts for mom and grandma.  Funny gifts for a coworker, friend or that compulsive University of Iowa and Iowa State fan.  Pick up a scarf or a Christmas Cactus or two – one for me, one for you!  No admission to the Botanical Center is required to shop at the Garden Gate Gift Shop!

Posted by: Pam Kline 1 Comment
Labels: , Posted in Botanical Center December 12, 2011

Public Open House for Water Works Park Design Competition Finalists

Earlier this year, Des Moines Water Works, in partnership with Iowa State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture, launched “Parkitecture,” an international design competition for re-envisioning Water Works Park. 

A public open house to view the five professional finalists and nine student honorees will be held on December 15, 6:00-8:00 pm at the Des Moines Art Center, located at 4700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines. The public will have the opportunity to comment on each professional design concept and cast a “people’s favorite” vote.

The panel of nine judges that selected the finalists will hear final presentations from the professional entries on December 16.  The winning design concept will be announced by the end of the year.  Funds for implementation of the winning design will be obtained through private fundraising and will not be borne by water rate payers.

In October, judges reviewed 44 design proposals and selected 5 professional finalists and 9 student honorees for further review and public comment. Design proposals included 25 student entries and 19 professional entries, including international firms from London and Egypt.

Water Works Park, a 1,500-acre urban park in the heart of Des Moines, has provided the main water supply for the city since the early 1900s.  It is also a major component of the city’s open space system and trail network.

The result of the design competition will be an innovative park design showcasing Water Works Park as a model component of the larger watershed and recreational destination for current and future generations of Central Iowans.

Online public access to view the five professional finalists and nine student honorees is available at  Questions and comments regarding Parkitecture can be addressed to [email protected] or (515) 283-8751.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in Parks December 8, 2011

A Holiday Tradition at Water Works Park

Jolly Holiday Lights exists today because of a group of volunteers came up with the idea of a charitable holiday event 16 years ago. Today, the event has become Iowa’s largest light display and a holiday tradition for so many families.

Jolly Holiday Lights is Make-a-Wish Foundation of Iowa’s biggest fundraiser, with 100% of the money going directly towards granting wishes of Iowa children between the ages of 2 ½ and 18 diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions.

On average, it costs approximately $8,900 to grant one wish, which takes about 900 vehicles driving through Jolly Holiday Lights. Each year, we strive to raise $300,000, enough to grant approximately 35 wishes throughout the state of Iowa.


  • Cars:       $10 ($5 Monday for Hy-Vee Value Nights!)
  • Limos:   $20
  • Buses:    $45

Santa’s Wish Shop – complete with snacks, Santa and gifts – is open 5:30-9:00 Sunday through Thursday and 5:30-10:00 Friday and Saturday. Santa’s Wish Shop will close December 23, to allow Santa time to deliver his gifts!

For more information, visit

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Parks December 5, 2011

Holiday Cheer at Des Moines Botanical Center

The Des Moines Botanical Center is an extra magical place this holiday season! The tropical Dome has been transformed into a pink wonderland. Walk through the Botanical Center and be overwhelmed with the abundance of cheery pink this holiday season. Enjoy the surroundings of white and pink sparkling poinsettias, oversized candy canes and lollipops, reindeer and snowman topiaries, breathtaking poinsettia trees, and giant, colorful presents. Don’t forget to stop at the Garden Gate Gift Shop and find unique gifts for everyone on your list!  The Des Moines Botanical Center staff wishes you & your family a colorful and wonderful holiday!

Posted by: Dawn Goodrich No Comments
Labels: Posted in Botanical Center