Archive for January, 2018

January 30, 2018

What Does Good Water Quality Legislation Actually Look Like?

Governor Kim Reynolds requested water quality legislation be the first bill she signs as governor.  After an interim of arm-twisting and cajoling by interest groups and less than 40 minutes of floor debate, the Iowa legislature acquiesced when the Iowa House passed Senate File 512.

Unfortunately, the legislation passed diverts existing funds from other programs to fund a failed voluntary water quality approach, with no monitoring, goals, accountability of funds, or targeting of priority waters.  Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy has failed to make a noticeable impact, and plowing more money into it isn’t going to suddenly make it effective.

As a surface water utility, Des Moines Water Works deals with the quality of water in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers on a daily basis, on behalf of 500,000 central Iowans or one-sixth of Iowa’s population.  Des Moines Water Works advocates for responsible water quality legislation that supports a targeted watershed approach, and includes accountability and measures of progress.

So, what does good water quality legislation actually look like?

Targeted Approach.

Accountable and Measurable. 

 

Adequate Funding. 

 

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Public Policy, Source Water, Uncategorized, Water Quality January 18, 2018

Community Partnerships

Des Moines Water Works is committed to being a vital contributor to the betterment of our community.  Each year, we consider contributions and sponsorships with external organizations that advance the utility’s mission, vision and strategic initiatives.  In 2017, Des Moines Water Works provided over $13,000 to local organizations with curriculum or events designed to build awareness and appreciation for the value of water as a vital resource or build awareness for source water quality and quantity.  A few of these organizations include: Community Youth Concepts, Polk County Conservation, Water Rocks! and Whiterock Conservancy.

More information about Des Moines Water Works’ sponsorship program and an online sponsorship application is available at www.dmww.com/about-us/sponsorships. All requests for in-kind and/or financial support must be made by February 28 of each year using the online form.

Des Moines Water Works thanks its community partners working to provide education, appreciation for and accessibility of safe and affordable drinking water.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Customers January 16, 2018

Des Moines Water Works Becomes First U.S. Water Treatment Facility Certified for ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance Program

Des Moines Water Works recently became the first U.S. water treatment utility to certify a plant to the ISO 50001 standard and Superior Energy Performance® (SEP) program.  The SEP program has long helped industrial and commercial organizations establish energy management systems that meet the widely respected ISO 50001 standard and achieve verified energy and cost savings.  As the first certified facility in the water sector, Des Moines Water Works’ Fleur Drive Water Treatment Plant has paved the way for similar facilities nationwide to increase efficiency, cut costs, and demonstrate responsible management of resources.

Aerial photo of Des Moines Water Works’ Fleur Drive Treatment Plant.

Water treatment facilities across America increasingly face aging infrastructures and rising costs.  According to the Electric Power Research Institute, U.S. water and wastewater treatment and distribution systems purchase nearly 70 billion kWh annually (about 1.8 percent of U.S. electricity consumption).  Low-cost operational changes enabled by an energy management system can sustainably reduce operating costs to enable reinvestment in infrastructure or control rates.

Des Moines Water Works has taken a pro-active step in good stewardship of energy and ratepayer dollars by implementing a comprehensive energy conservation and management program.  Energy costs are a significant portion of the utility’s operational budget, so focusing on developing and implementing an energy management system is a crucial step in this stewardship.

Des Moines Water Works worked closely with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to implement ISO 50001 and SEP.  The utility has pursued energy-saving strategies for decades, but in 2014, the utility raised the bar by joining the SEP pilot for the water/wastewater sector.  In 2016, Des Moines Water Works joined DOE’s Better Plants program and set a goal to increase energy efficiency 25% utility-wide by 2026.  In the following year (2017), the utility joined the Better Plants Challenge, which involves a commitment to share their solutions.

ISO 50001 and SEP helped the utility establish a formal structure to embed energy management processes and reporting into normal business procedures, ensuring the retention and growth of energy savings over time.  By implementing a rigorous energy management system certified to ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance, Des Moines Water Works’ Fleur Drive Water Treatment Plant increased its energy performance 2.7% in a single year and is now well-equipped to continuously build on those savings in the years ahead.

ISO 50001 has empowered employees at Des Moines Water Works to incorporate energy-saving actions in day-to-day operations, for example:  taking into consideration how and where energy is used, the cost of energy, and its impact on water rates.

“This new culture of managing energy performance will help the Des Moines Water Works expand its energy and cost savings to benefit the environment and our water customers,” said Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager.  “The certification is a clear indication to Des Moines Water Works customers and employees that we will lead in providing about good stewardship of natural resources, improving energy performance, and reducing carbon emissions.”

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Green Initiatives, Infrastructure January 8, 2018

Des Moines Water Works’ 2018 Legislative Priorities

Des Moines Water Works believes meaningful water quality legislation that protects the health of Iowans should be Iowa Legislature’s number one priority; not “pass what we have, and move on.”  Passing legislation and then crossing our fingers and hoping it works is no way to address our water quality issues in our state.  It is also fiscally irresponsible at a time when the state budget has serious constraints and adds to the public health crisis for all Iowans, rural and urban.   Des Moines Water Works will advocate for the following priorities in 2018:

  1. Make the Raccoon River Watershed a Top Priority
    • The watershed provides drinking water to 500,000 Iowans  (one-sixth of the state’s population).
    • Address urgent water quality problems: escalating nitrate concentrations – data show levels have been climbing for decades.
    • Stop pollution that causes serious health threats: blue green algae (cyanotoxins).
    • Fully fund and support subwatershed WMAs (Watershed Management Authorities) that are already formed – North Raccoon, Beaver Creek, Walnut Creek WMAs.
  2. Create Adequate, Sustained Funding Mechanism to Clean Up Iowa Water
    • Adequate and sustained funding mechanism for a targeted, holistic approach to water quality, that includes accountability and measures of progress.
    • Stop pollution where it starts and make the watershed safe for all residents.
    • Funding must not pit conservation/water quality against other vital state services.
    • Require water quality monitoring at the watershed level to ensure effective use of public funds with public access to the data
  3. Give Explicit and Specified Authority and Responsibility to Drainage Districts
    • Require consideration of environmental impacts before new tiling.
    • Give authority to require, monitor and enforce mitigation at edge-of-field.
    • Require water quality monitoring at the district level.
  4. Local Control of Drinking Water
    • Local solutions must be created collaboratively at the local level.
    • A one-size fits all approach for public health issues is bad politics. Home Rule is the best policy for drinking water.
    • Ensure economic growth, public health and supply, by leaving drinking water governance to local water experts.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Public Policy, Water Quality January 4, 2018

2018 Budget and Water Rates

The Board of Water Works Trustees approved a seven percent rate increase for most customers at their regular monthly meeting in October meeting.  The 2018 rate increase equates to an additional $2.18 per month for water charges for the average four-person household (using 7,500 gallons) in Des Moines.  In addition, a five percent increase for the Wholesale With Storage rate was approved.  The rate increases will result in approximately $2.6 million of increased water revenue for 2018.  New water rates will go into effect April 1, 2018.  A complete listing of Des Moines Water Works’ 2018 water rate structure is available at  www.dmww.com/about-us/announcements.

The Board of Trustees subsequently approved the 2018 calendar year budget at their November meeting, which includes revenue from 2018 rate increases for all service areas.  The 2018 budget includes $63.9 million of operating revenue.  The 2018 operating expenses are budgeted at $43.4 million, an increase of $1.7 million from 2017, primarily due to increases in labor and benefits and treatment plant maintenance expenses.  Capital infrastructure costs are budgeted at $33.2 million. In addition to operating and capital expenditures, $4.3 million will be spent on debt repayment.

As the Board moves toward greater investment in the water utility’s infrastructure, rate increases and annual budgets will be more consistent with the challenges of producing and delivering safe drinking water to its 500,000 central Iowa customers.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Rates