Archive for December, 2013December 30, 2013
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we should not forget another important December date. December 16 was the 39th anniversary of the signing of the Safe Drinking Water Act, a landmark law providing for the nation’s health, wealth, and welfare.
Even though drinking water in the United States is considered to be one of the safest in the world, water contamination still occurs. There are many sources of contamination, but in Iowa and for Des Moines Water Works, the primary source of contaminants (fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, and concentrated animal feeding operations) comes from land use. Make 2014 the year you engage in serious discussions locally and statewide about this growing problem. These should not be sterile discussions influenced by data and statistics – although alarming data and statistics exist. Healthy source waters and agriculture can co-exist. They must – both are critical to a sustainable future.
The presence of certain contaminants in our source water can lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons may be especially susceptible to illness. Everyone and everything is connected to water. And, no one can afford to remain silent while water quality continues to degrade in Iowa. Seek out and understand the source(s) of your drinking water, what threats are relevant, and take action that will improve and protect these water resources. Information can be found on the DMWW website, www.dmww.com.
Holiday drinking doesn’t have to include sweet and creamy or spiked and spicy elixirs – sometimes water is all you need, especially if you serve it with good food and great conversation. So this holiday season, celebrate with a toast to accessible, affordable and safe drinking water. And in the New Year, become an advocate for clean water in Iowa.
Cheers from Des Moines Water Works!
At the December 3, 2013, Board of Water Works Trustees’ Planning Committee meeting, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) staff announced the utility, which serves approximately 500,000 customers in Central Iowa, will continue community water fluoridation at the current level of 0.7 mg/L.
“Staff has reviewed currently available data and the data overwhelmingly supports that fluoridation of drinking water at current levels does not pose a detectable health risk,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “From these findings, together with the health and economic benefits provided, staff concludes that the current levels of fluoride delivered to our customers (0.7 mg/L) is appropriate for public health and is consistent with the balance of scientific and medical opinion currently available.”
The issue was opened up for public comment at the October committee meeting and staff solicited comments, research and studies on fluoridation. Unlike other providers of drinking water, including private water companies and corporate bottled water providers, DMWW actively sought and received public comment and engaged in public discussions, providing transparency in its process, inviting the public to provide their opinions and point toward scientific data or studies. As anticipated, the solicitation of public comments drew significant interest and elicited many emotional responses. Approximately 650 comments were received. Comments can be viewed online at http://www.dmww.com/water-quality/fluoride-comments/.
Community water fluoridation is supported by more than 100 national and international health, service, and professional organizations. A few of these supporters are American Dental Association (ADA), American Medical Association (AMA), American Water Works Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Surgeon General, and the World Health Organization. The CDC proclaimed community water fluoridation as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
“Des Moines Water Works continuously reviews its water treatment and distribution practices to ensure both regulatory compliance and economic delivery of safe, affordable, and abundant drinking water,” said Stowe. “Processes are dynamic, and as new science becomes available, DMWW will adjust accordingly; however, the clear weight of peer-reviewed scientific evidence shows that fluoridated water, at proper levels, safely and effectively reduces tooth decay in children and adults.”
Numerous studies have also shown the cost benefits of fluoridation. One study, “An economic evaluation of community water fluoridation,” has shown every dollar spent on fluoridation can save residents $38.00 in dental costs. DMWW spends approximately $130,000 annually in direct costs for water fluoridation.
Anti-fluoridation proponents point toward several concerns about adding fluoride to public water supplies. However, studies citing significant health detriment have been based on fluoride concentrations well beyond the current levels of 0.7 mg/L. This level of fluoridation is supported by the AMA, ADA, CDC, Department of Health and Human Services, and Iowa Department of Public Health. DMWW’s policy of fluoridation through the public water system supports its mission of providing safe and quality drinking water for the public health of its community.
The Board of Water Works Trustees will hold their regularly scheduled meeting, which includes a public comment period, on December 17, at 3:30 p.m. at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, located at 909 Robert D. Ray Drive.
Des Moines Water Works uses the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers as water sources. By using surface water, there can be some seasonal variations that occur. The treatment process should eliminate the variation in finished water, but sometimes there will be a slight change some customers may notice. For example, there may be a slight increase in smell or taste, especially during a river’s thaw. Although the water is safe to drink, DMWW adjusts its water treatment processes to remedy the situation. To help reduce tastes and odors in your drinking water, DMWW will make timely switches between our source waters as needed to insure the highest quality of water possible. In addition, powdered activated carbon is added at the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant. This material absorbs taste- and odor-causing compounds before settling out in the treatment process. The effective use of chlorine also destroys objectionable tastes and odors.
Some people are more sensitive to subtle changes in taste or odors. To help dissipate the taste and odor, try storing water for drinking in a pitcher in the refrigerator. If you are storing drinking water for convenient use, here are a few things to help prevent taste and odor issues. Store water in a glass container, as plastic can impart taste or odors to the water. Also make sure the container has a good seal. Store in the refrigerator as water will have less flavor when chilled. If the water has sat for a while, it may be flat. If this is the case, pour it back and forth between containers or shake it to help aerate the water. This will help to add oxygen to the water and remove the stale, flat flavor.