Archive for December, 2017

December 29, 2017

On Call 24/7 to Respond to Main Breaks

As cold weather arrives, water main breaks can become more common.  The months of December, January and February bring the highest number of water main breaks.  Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) crews repair an average of 300 water main breaks each year.  Although DMWW has a proactive and aggressive main replacement program, underground water mains can break for a number of reasons including corrosion, frost heave, water temperature, and pressure fluctuations.

When a water main breaks, generally water comes to the surface and flows across the ground to a storm sewer or waterway.  Large water main breaks can reduce water pressure in the area and the flowing water can cause damage.  If you witness a main break or see water flowing in the street, please call Des Moines Water Works Dispatch at 283-8772.  Des Moines Water Works is committed to providing our customers with safe and abundant drinking water.  To honor that commitment, DMWW crews are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to main breaks, ensuring that your service is restored as quickly as possible.

Once a water main break has been confirmed, the exact location of the break is determined using acoustic leak detection equipment.  This equipment listens to the sound the water makes as it exits the pipe and can determine the location of the leak based on the intensity of the sound.  When the location of the leak has been determined, water service in the area must be shut down so the break can be repaired.  Des Moines Water Works uses Automated Notification System to to communicate water outages to affected customers.  For more information and to make sure DMWW has your correct contact information, visit: http://www.dsmh2o.com/automated-notification-system-2/ 

The safety of our employees and the public during a main break repair is a top priority.  Special attention is given to trench safety which protects our employees and to traffic control which protects our employees as well as the traveling public.  Before the water service is restored, the repaired water main is flushed and sampled to restore the best possible water quality.  An average main break takes 4-6 hours to repair.  You can find current water outages at www.dmww.com.

When the water comes back on, there will likely be air in your water service piping.  It is a good idea to run the first water after an outage through a faucet that does not have an aerator screen, such as a bathtub. Open faucets slowly to allow the air to escape.  Air will make a spurting or hissing sound as it escapes through the faucet.  Once the water is flowing, allow the faucet to run for a minute or two. The first water may be cloudy due to air in the water or particles that dislodge as the pipes fill with water. This should clear fairly quickly.  If water is cloudy throughout the house and it does not clear after allowing the water to run for several minutes, contact Des Moines Water Works Dispatch at 283-8772.

If the kitchen or bathroom faucets do not perform normally following a water outage, it may be necessary to remove the aerator screen.  Typically, the aerator can simply be unscrewed from the faucet. Inspect the screen for small particles and rinse away any you find.  Reinstall the aerator and test performance of the faucet again.  If you experience difficulties such as low pressure throughout the house following a water outage, contact Des Moines Water Works Dispatch at 283-8772 for assistance.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers December 11, 2017

Real-time Analyses for Emerging Contaminants

Scientists in all areas of life science, including basic research, biotechnology, medicine, forensics, diagnostics, and industry, are utilizing molecular techniques in a wide range of applications.  Real-time or quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is a widely used method in many of these areas of science and is the most studied of the new methods for detecting and quantifying microbes (i.e. bacteria, viruses, protozoa, etc.) in water.

This technology has many advantages, which make it attractive for measuring microbes in water.  The qPCR method is very specific to the target organisms being detected. In addition, the qPCR technology is very rapid, with results in about two to three hours (compared to detecting and identifying microbes with cultural methods that require about 24 hours, with some microbes requiring several days or weeks before they appear in culture).

Des Moines Water Works recently purchased qPCR equipment which will allow staff to greatly expand monitoring capabilities, with the ability to look for a multitude of organisms from a small amount of sample utilizing a single instrument.  Specifically, staff will begin analyzing toxic versus non-toxic blooms of cyanobacteria, as well as specific gene targets for toxin production.  Harmful algal blooms (HABs), which are large, rapid-growing populations of cyanobacteria, are caused by excess nutrients from farm fertilizer.

In some instances, cyanobacteria contain genes that allow them to produce toxins, which raise health concerns.  In 2014, the City of Toledo, OH, issued a “do not drink” order for several days to its 500,000 customers.  A toxin released by cyanobacteria in Lake Erie contaminated the water supply.  The toxins produced by cyanobacteria are unregulated and emerging contaminants; however, Des Moines Water Works has embraced the health advisory and protocols, and has invested in new protocols and equipment to monitor proactively.

 

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