Author ArchiveNovember 6, 2013
Did you know that Des Moines Water Works has owned about 100 acres of farm land at Maffitt Reservoir Park since 1942? In keeping with DMWW’s mission, and knowing that what we do on the land impacts the quality of our source water, we seek to adopt agricultural practices that provide protection to the water and soil resources under our ownership.
This fall, a cover crop was planted on DMWW’s Maffitt farm land. The cover crop was applied using a helicopter that planted seed in a standing soybean field. A mixture of rye (cool season grass/grain non-legumes) and hairy vetch (cool season annual legume) were planted.
Cover crops have been around for centuries, but are gaining in popularity because of their ability to control erosion, improve soil water moisture content, and the natural filtration of water through the soil profile. When the cover crop decays, it provides organic matter to produce beneficial soil organisms for soil fertility and soil health. Healthy soils improve the infiltration of water, leading to less flooding as well as reduced soil erosion and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) leaching. According to an Ohio State University Extension report, Using Cover Crops to Improve Soil and Water Quality (2009), a pound of soil organic matter has the ability to absorb 18–20 pounds of water, reduces nutrient and pesticide runoff by 50% or more, decreases soil erosion by 90%, reduces sediment loading by 75%, and reduces pathogen loading by 60%.
By using cover crops and reducing reliance on agrichemicals for crop production, we help protect the health of family and friends and reduce water quality concerns arising from non-point pollution attributed to farming practices. At a time when the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds suffer from serious degradation due to nutrient contamination, this shift in agricultural systems can play a significant and positive role in revitalizing Iowa’s river systems. For more information about cover crops, visit Practical Farmers of Iowa at http://www.practicalfarmers.org/programs/Field-Crops_cover.php or Midwest Cover Crops Council at http://www.mccc.msu.edu/.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Maffitt Lake, Maffitt Lake Park, Nitrate, water quality Posted in Environment, Maffitt Reservoir, Source Water, Water Quality August 21, 2013
On August 20, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) held their regularly scheduled monthly meeting at Des Moines Water Works (DMWW). Prior to the business meeting, Commissioners Couser, Rastetter, Sinclair, Smith, and Ver Steeg, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) staff, and representatives from environmental and agricultural organizations toured Des Moines Water Works’ Fleur Drive Treatment Plant to gain a better understanding of the treatment process. DMWW staff provided the Commissioners an insight into the condition and challenges of source waters used for drinking water for the more than 500,000 people in central Iowa.
Challenges expressed by DMWW included everything from high nitrates to flood events. However, most questions and comments stemmed from the exceptionally high nitrate levels this year. DMWW staff emphasized that even if nitrate levels are currently low, the combination of nitrates and phosphorus in the rivers and increasing temperatures will again challenge DMWW due to algae blooms. Algae can cause taste and odor problems and require additional filter maintenance, which slows the treatment process and reduces production capacity.
The EPC is a panel of nine citizens who provide policy oversight over Iowa’s environmental protection efforts. EPC members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by vote of the Senate for four year terms.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, water quality, Water Treatment Posted in Public Policy, Source Water, Water Quality, Water Treatment August 14, 2013
Des Moines Water Works is a supporter of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Healthy & Happy Outdoors (H2O) program and was present when Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds kicked off the H2O program at the Iowa State Fair. The H2O program helps you get connected to Iowa outdoor destinations, including Water Works Park, and recreational activities for a healthier life! Helping Iowans improve physical and mental health through outdoor recreation is an important goal for DMWW. Above photo: IDNR Deputy Director Bruce Trautman, Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds
Here’s how the H2O program works: After you register on H2O website, you can record your outdoor activities in Iowa parks and recreational areas. Each recorded activity counts as an entry into a prize drawing for outdoor gear– from bikes to binoculars to a vacation getaway. The more outdoor activities you register, the more chances you have to win. Log in today to get started! Participants who log activities between now and August 31, 2013 are eligible to win an Iowa State Park camping coupon book.
Des Moines Water Works and Iowa DNR is providing free water at the Iowa State Fair in the Department of Natural Resources building. Bring your reusable water bottle to the Fair and fill up!Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Healthy & Happy Outdoors, Healthy and Happy Outdoors, Iowa State Fair, Water Works Park Posted in Des Moines Water Works Park, Environment, Health, Parks July 15, 2013
In 2008, the state passed the Smokefree Air Act which banned smoking in public places. Why? Because it protected public health. State legislators passed this bold legislation because it was best for the people of Iowa.
Reducing nitrate, phosphorus, and bacteria in Iowa’s rivers, streams, and lakes will also protect public health. This year is a record setting year for nitrate levels, with the Raccoon River reaching 24.39 mg/L and Des Moines River 18.62 mg/L. If nitrate levels in our source water persist at levels such that DMWW is unable to produce finished drinking water below 10 mg/L, Des Moines Water Works will violate the drinking water standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency. This standard is set to protect our most vulnerable population, infants under 6 months of age.
Opponents criticized the Smokefree Air Act as a government intrusion into personal choice and free enterprise that would force businesses to close due to a reduction in business. Agricultural interests are using similar arguments. The agricultural community insists government cannot tell them what to do on their own land, and argues that if agriculture is regulated, it will force the livestock industry and row-crop production out of the country. No one is allowed to use the state’s water resources to the point that they impair water use by others. All Iowans are accountable and responsible for improving and protecting Iowa’s water resources and ultimately public health. Iowa Code, 455B.262 (3) states, “Water occurring in a basin or watercourse …is public water and public wealth of the people of the state … the control and development and use of water for all beneficial purposes is vested in the state, which shall take measures to ensure the conservation and protection of the water resources of the state.” Iowa needs strong leadership on this important issue. Where are the voices of state officials who will take bold steps to ensure Iowa’s water resources benefit all Iowans?
Protecting the health of Iowans is not a partisan issue. Agriculture should not be exempted from all regulation, especially when conditions created by the industry negatively impact the general population. Balancing freedom in farming decisions and water quality is a critical issue in Iowa. Des Moines Water Works wants to work with state leaders to ensure the economics, social, and environmental effects of farming are balanced for future generations.Uncategorized April 25, 2013
Here’s an exciting opportunity for river enthusiasts! Plan to participate in Iowa Rivers Revival’s “Master River Steward Program” in the Des Moines/Raccoon River Watershed. This will be Iowa Rivers Revival’s second year offering this program. The eight week course, beginning May 14, will focus on riverine systems, including skills to paddle and navigate rivers, restore aquatic habitat, improve water quality, and understand policies related to floodplains, river protection and restoration.
The “Master River Steward Program” will build on a network of river experts in various partner agencies and organizations. It will help adult learners collaborate to protect and improve Iowa’s rivers, so that current and future generations can enjoy these resources. Visit Iowa Rivers Revival’s website to view an outline of last year’s program: http://iowarivers.org/education/river-stewards/.
Registration Cost: Participants will pay a fee of $50 which will include program materials. Participants will be expected to attend each session and there will be “homework” assignments following each class – materials will be provided. Please register by April 30, 2013.
Feedback from 2012 Pilot Participants:
- “Great class, thoroughly enjoyed each and every session.”
- “Great leadership. Great resources/readings. Great speakers. Great group.”
- “Really enjoyed class. Had zero expectations coming in. Was surprised by the amount of river experience/Project AWARE tie in. Really enjoyed meeting such passionate people. Each week gave me something to think about and discuss with co-workers.”
- “This was a fantastic program. I came in with no expectations, but left every night excited to share what I learned with others… Thanks so much for putting this together. I will become active in the stewardship of rivers at a far greater level due to this program.”
For more information and to register, contact:
Rosalyn Lehman, Executive Director
Iowa Rivers Revival
PO Box 72, Des Moines, IA 50301
Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR) is Iowa’s only statewide river education and advocacy organization committed to protecting one of our most precious natural resources – our rivers and streams. Since 2007, IRR has been working to engage individuals, organizations, communities and our government leaders in river awareness, responsibility and enjoyment in an effort to improve and enhance the condition of Iowa’s waterways – ensuring a quality, safe and lasting resource for future generations.Labels: Des Moines River, Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Iowa Rivers Revival, Raccoon River, water quality, Watershed Posted in Environment, Source Water, Value of Water, Water Quality April 1, 2013
Des Moines Water Works celebrates public health during National Public Health Week (April 1-7, 2013), a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation. In a world where an estimated 3 million people die every year from preventable waterborne disease, our water systems allow us to drink from virtually any public tap with a high assurance of safety. Each community water supply meets rigorous federal and state health protective standards.
Drinking water quality has a major influence on public health. Improvements in drinking water quality have dramatically improved the public’s health in the United States. However, some old challenges remain and new ones are emerging. Access to plentiful healthy source waters treated for drinking water are becoming limited by the increased presence of contaminants, new and more stringent regulations, and aging infrastructure. The public costs to safeguard our drinking water supply will be high without changes in land use that prevents the continued increase of contaminants from reaching our water sources, but the costs associated with failing to do so are likely to be much higher.
Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is committed to protecting public health by assessing water quality in the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds and mitigating the public’s exposure to contaminantsthrough treatment.We work with landowners to help identify appropriate barriers for controlling contaminants that do not focus on expensive treatment processes, but rather consider a range of options that may result in improved water quality and in our ability to ensure quality drinking water after treatment. This is a holistic approach of managing water resources from our source to your tap.
For 40 years, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) has been the regulation by which drinking water utilities adhere to, to protect public health. When the SDWA became law in 1974 it required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set enforceable standards for health-related drinking water contaminants. The SDWA has been reauthorized in 1986 and 1996. In fact, the drinking water industry is one of the most regulated industries in the United States. In addition to meeting EPA drinking water standards, DMWW is proactively monitoring emerging contaminants that may require regulations in the future.
Protecting public health is the reason that the drinking water industry exists. The public health effects of current and future contaminants is the motivation behind the need for sustainable infrastructure, skilled operators, technical expertise, leadership and improvement and protection of the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Public Health, Safe Drinking Water Act Posted in About Us, Health, Public Policy, Water Quality December 10, 2012
Maintaining the integrity of our watersheds provides economic benefits through ecosystem services. Degradation of stream banks, aquatic species and the natural course of water can cause negative economic impacts locally and far from the altered site.
Protecting Healthy Watersheds:
- Lowers drinking water treatment costs
- Avoids expensive restoration activities
- Sustains revenue generating recreational and tourism opportunities
- Minimizes vulnerability and damage from natural disasters
- Provides critical natural system services at a fraction of the cost for engineered services
- Increases property value
- Supports millions of jobs nationwide
- Ensures we leave a foundation for a vibrant economy for generations to come
We cannot afford not to protect our watersheds. For more information on healthy watersheds visit Healthy Watersheds at US Environmental Protection Agency – www.epa.gov/healthywatershedsLabels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, water quality, Watershed Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Environment October 17, 2012
Forty years ago, in the midst of a national concern about untreated sewage, industrial and toxic discharges, destruction of wetlands, and contaminated runoff, the principal law to protect the nation’s waters was passed. The Clean Water Act (CWA) set a national goal “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,” with interim goals that all waters be fishable and swimmable.
The Act embodied a new federal-state partnership, where federal guidelines, objectives and limits were to be set under the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while states, territories and authorized tribes would largely administer and enforce the CWA programs, with federal technical and financial assistance. In Iowa, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is delegated to administer the CWA.
- Start or join a watershed improvement and protection group
- Organize a river, stream or lake clean-up event
- Get trained as an IOWATER volunteer
- Get school kids, churches, civic organizations involved in education, projects and programs
- Talk with policymakers about your support for watershed funding and programs – City Councils, County Supervisors, Legislators and others
- Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper about what good water quality means to you
- Talk with family and friends about the importance of clean water
We must work together to protect clean water in Iowa for our families and future generations. Everyone has an impact on the water and we are all responsible for making a difference. Water is worth it.
To learn more about the Clean Water Act, visit: http://water.epa.gov/action/cleanwater40/Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Source Water, water quality, Watershed Posted in Environment, Source Water, Water Quality October 16, 2012
Des Moines Water Work’s primary water sources are the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers. Land use in the Raccoon and Des Moines River Watersheds is overwhelmingly agricultural. About 1.7 million of the 2.3 million acres in the Raccoon watershed is cultivated for corn and soybeans. Land covered by perennial vegetation is nearly non-existent outside urban areas. Much of the corn-soybean system requires constructed drainage (agricultural tile drainage) to maximize yields. Manure and commercial fertilizers applied to crop land are transported during rainfall events as either run-off or discharged to a river through a tile drainage system. All of these factors have resulted in various consequences for water quality and challenges for drinking water utilities.
Today, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) will meet to discuss whether or not to continue to ban manure application to soybean crops. Manure is a source of nutrients used in combination with or in place of commercial fertilizer. Nutrients in water are necessary for healthy watersheds; however, in high concentrations they can adversely affect aquatic life and human health. For a drinking water utility, increasing nutrient loads can cause difficult and costly challenges at the source, in the treatment process, and at the tap. Monitoring trends in the Des Moines and Raccoon River since 1974 show the ever-increasing trend of nitrate-nitrogen (a nutrient) loading and concentrations. Without a comprehensive, measurable state nutrient standard and strategy these conditions will be perpetuated.
All waters in Iowa are “public waters and public wealth” of its citizens and is for the beneficial use of all citizens. It is also the policy of the State of Iowa – delegated to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission – to protect existing water uses and to protect and maintain the physical, biological and chemical integrity of all waters of the state. Making a decision on whether manure should be applied to soybeans is again representative of the piecemeal approach to nutrient management that will not effectively decrease non-point source nutrient contributions to Iowa’s surface and ground water resources.
Des Moines Water Works provided comments to EPC commissioners strongly urging them to take this opportunity to support development of comprehensive nutrient management strategies and standards. Standards that protect Iowa’s water resources, promote economic development, and enhance the quality of life necessary to attract workers and jobs to the state. And most importantly, establish the target so many producers and the public have requested.
It is not Des Moines Water Works’ intent to tell people how to farm or what they can and cannot do on their land. But it is our intent, to rigorously advocate for establishing a comprehensive nutrient strategy, setting numeric nutrient standards, and the aggressive reduction of non-point source nutrient contributions to Iowa’s surface and ground water resources.
Des Moines Water Works and the drinking water industry ensures that the investment the public has made in them results in all Iowans having access to safe drinking water. We believe every Iowan who drinks a glass of water should recognize the importance of our water resources to sustaining life and the critical connection between our water resources and food production, an existence and connection that should occur without degradation of our water resources.
Producers are able to make all the decisions on his or her land, but those decisions are having dramatic consequences that impact others. Integrated solutions on a watershed scale and involvement of all stakeholders in the planning and implementation process is critical to generating change. Whether you live in an urban, rural or something in-between, we are all part of the watershed and whatever we do in our daily lives impacts water quality in the watershed.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Raccoon River, Source Water, water quality, Watershed Posted in Environment, Source Water, Water Quality July 30, 2012
Des Moines Water Works through the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission Assisting Dallas County Board of Supervisors in Formation of a Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed Alliance
The State of Iowa has authorized local governments to address flooding and management of water and soil resources in watersheds across the state through the formation of local alliances. An alliance is formed through a 28E agreement (contractual agreement between governmental organizations) with representatives appointed by city, county and soil and watershed conservation districts (SWCD) within the watershed. An advisory body with landowners and other groups will also be part of the process. The watershed alliance has no taxing authority and no impact on the authority of a city, county, or SWCD to conduct its business. Instead, the alliance will educate, coordinate and leverage resources for the betterment of the watershed.
The Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed Alliance is working within the following vision and mission statements:
Vision: A regional alliance with resources to lead, and support improvements in soil protection, flood management and water quality.
Mission: To facilitate regional collaboration that will identify strategies and goals to educate the public, reduce the risk of flood events, and leverage resources for improved soil and water quality protection.
As outlined by legislators in Iowa Code the alliance can:
- Educate residents
- Identify sources of funding to institutionalize the Watershed Management Alliance
- Assess flood risks
- Assess options for cutting flood risk
- Monitor state & federal flood risk planning activities
- Assess water quality
- Leverage funding of multiple partners
- Allocate state and federal moneys available for water quality and flood risk reduction programs and implement best management practices
- Implement the Raccoon River Master Plan
- Enter into contracts and agreements
Source: Iowa Code Chapter 466B, Subchapter III
The Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed Management Alliance has just recently been selected to partner with the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) on a multi-year project to monitor, plan, and implement watershed projects aimed at improving soil and water resources and the adverse impacts of flooding. Phase I will focus on the Middle Raccoon River watershed. The IFC formally announced the partnership June 22, 2012, in Redfield, IA.
The landscape of the Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed is located in the best of rural Iowa, where community is tied to the tradition of farming and outdoor recreation. The benefits gained from the partnerships in the Middle-South Raccoon River watershed is a place where agriculture, communities, recreation, and Iowans thrive and prosper.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Raccoon River, Source Water, water quality, Watershed, Watershed alliance Posted in Environment, Flooding, Source Water, Water Quality