Archive for April, 2014

April 21, 2014

Safely Dispose of Unwanted Prescription Drugs on April 26

Rx drugsOn April 26, communities across the United States are teaming up with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to give the public the opportunity to safely dispose of expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Traditional methods for disposing of unused medications – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – both pose threats to our groundwater supplies. Additionally, leftover medications are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Do your part to help keep our groundwater clean and your family safe! Dispose of all your expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs on April 26, at a drop off location near you. For drop off site locations, visit the DEA website or call 1-800-882-9539. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

To learn more about what you can do to protect your family and the environment from leftover medications, please visit The Groundwater Foundation website.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Source Water, Water Quality April 18, 2014

Listening to the Voice of the Customer

listen-1Des Moines Water Work is committed to delivering exceptional service to its customers. As part of this commitment, we want to ensure that our customers are receiving superior customer service and support.

Des Moines Water Works has retained Essman/Research, an independent marketing research company in Des Moines to conduct random telephone surveys with our customers and to tabulate the survey results. The “Voice of the Customer” surveys will be conducted the weeks of April 21 and 28.  The purpose of the research is to gauge customer satisfaction with products and services received from Des Moines Water Works.

We value your opinion and ask for your assistance with this important customer research.  Please be assured that individual responses are strictly confidential. The survey data will be used solely to improve the quality of Des Moines Water Works’ products and services to our customers.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers April 16, 2014

Bicycle Fundraising Event in Des Moines for Clean Water

The Water Ride

The Move Project will host their second annual ride for clean water – The Water Ride – on May 17.  The Water Ride is a bicycle ride, starting and ending at Water Works Park, which raises funds for clean water projects in Ghana, West Africa.  Participants and park visitors will enjoy live entertainment after the ride at Water Works Park, with educational activities highlighting the need for clean water in rural villages in Africa. Des Moines Water Works is the sponsor of The Water 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 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.

“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 emphasize the value of drinking water to a community’s overall health.”

The well will be installed in the village of Tsipasi, in Ghana, West Africa. The village’s name ironically means a place with abundant water, but the unfortunate reality is that the people of the village are without access to clean water.

“The clean water well will be our first, albeit significant, step to joining hands with a community and helping them break the cycle of poverty. It will be a slow, difficult, and complex effort, but we are convinced that we must make a move,” said Mahlstadt.

For more information and to sign up for the bike ride, visit http://www.themoveproject.org/water.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service, Infrastructure April 14, 2014

Boat Permits Available for Maffitt Reservoir

Maffitt Lake shoreline

For the second year, Des Moines Water Works is allowing the use of canoes and kayaks at Maffitt Reservoir. Last year, over 270 canoe and kayak enthusiasts enjoyed the beautiful water and views at Maffitt Reservoir and Park. New this year, stand-up paddleboards will be allowed on the lake as well.

Canoe, kayak and paddleboards users must purchase an annual permit to launch their watercraft at Maffitt Reservoir. The annual boat permit can be purchased for $20.00 at Des Moines Water Works’ General Office, located at 2201 George Flagg Parkway, in Des Moines. No motors or sails of any kind will be allowed, which will help ensure the lake remains a high quality water source for the area’s drinking water supply.

Dale Maffitt Reservoir is a 200-acre lake that sits amongst the tall oaks overlooking Des Moines Water Works’ L.D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant. The lake, primarily located in Polk County, also has corners that reach into Warren, Dallas and Madison Counties. The reservoir was constructed in the early 1940s, as a backup water source and named in honor of then General Manager of Des Moines Water Works,Dale Maffitt. In 2000, Des Moines Water Works began operating the L.D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir in effort to produce enough water for Des Moines and surrounding areas’ growing population. For decades, nature lovers and anglers have enjoyed the serenity of the lake, as ducks, geese, river otter and a multitude of fish species call it home.

Park hours are 7:00 am-8:00 pm (Standard Time) and 6:00 am-9:00 pm (Daylight Savings Time). Take Army Post Road west, across Interstate 35 and follow the signs.

For more information on the use of canoes, kayaks and paddleboards on Maffitt Reservoir, please contact Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Maffitt Reservoir, Parks April 7, 2014

Important Information about your Drinking Water

Spring melting has caused significant water quality concerns for Des Moines Water Works, in particular ammonia present in our rivers from livestock runoff and other upstream land uses.   Many customers may have noticed a chlorine taste and smell in their drinking water. Weeks of disinfection treatment has been necessary to reduce runoff impacts; however, disinfection has its own risks, including potential health risks if continued over the long term.

Des Moines Water Works aggressively and continuously monitors for the presence of drinking water contaminants. Tests indicating a “snap shot” of drinking water quality are taken often in the Des Moines Water Works system. Testing results received on March 21, 2014, show Des Moines Water Works exceeded the regulatory standard for Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM). The standard for TTHM is 0.080 milligrams per liter (mg/L), or 80 parts per billion. Des Moines Water Works’ result for TTHM during the monitoring period, which ended in the first quarter, was 0.090 mg/L in the Des Moines Public Water Supply (PWS) and 0.0926 mg/L in the Southeast Polk Rural Water District PWS.

“First and foremost, we take very seriously our responsibility to customers to provide a safe, reliable, and abundant water supply, and recognize that responsibility was not met here,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager. “Safe drinking water standards exist to protect public health – some for immediate health considerations, and others that protect against unwanted long-term effects.  This exceedance falls within the second category.  What is important here is that we respond with a sense of urgency to remedy the issue so it does not have the opportunity to become long-term.  Our customers need to understand that there is not an immediate concern with respect to the drinking water – it remains safe to consume and customers do not need to use alternative sources of drinking water, nor use additional treatment techniques.”

Trihalomethanes are one of the most common disinfection by-products. Disinfection by-products form when chlorine used for disinfection reacts with organic matter present in the water. Some people who drink water containing Trihalomethanes in excess of the standard over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys or central nervous system.

The violation occurred due to the interaction between chlorine and organic matter in the water system.

“At the time of the violation, Des Moines Water Works saw elevated levels of ammonia and other organic matter in both the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers,” said Stowe.

Disinfection with chlorine is more difficult when ammonia is present in source waters. Ammonia consumes chlorine, leaving it unavailable for disinfection. This requires adding additional chlorine to eliminate the ammonia and obtain proper disinfection during the final stage of treatment. For that reason, chlorine levels have been purposefully higher since early January. Elevated levels of organic matter, at a time when chlorine is being dosed aggressively, causes the formation of the undesirable disinfection by-products.

High levels of organic matter and ammonia in the rivers are often the result of agriculture runoff, especially livestock operations and manure fertilized fields.

“Runoff into the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers has once again created significant water quality and water treatment concerns,” said Stowe. “We are completely at the mercy of what is in our rivers each day.”

“Investing in multi-million dollar capital improvements to adjust treatment processes is one viable solution to eradicate similar violations in the future, but the source of the problem remains in our rivers,” said Stowe.  “This should be a call to action for all central Iowans to advocate for cleaner source water and to question if voluntary water protection measures work.”

Des Moines Water Works customers will receive the public notice required by Iowa Department of Natural Resources in their April bill statement. Copies of the notices can be found here:

The regulation requires averaging the samples obtained in the last four calendar quarters. Because of the high results in the first quarter of 2014, similar notices will be sent to customers in future quarters unless and until the average falls below the standard. Customers can expect three additional notices in 2014.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Source Water, Water Quality