Archive for the ‘About Us’ Category

July 17, 2019

2019 Citizen Water Academy

Des Moines Water Works has successfully supplied safe, abundant and affordable drinking water to central Iowans for 100 years; however, the associated planning, production, distribution, monitoring, and challenges presented by deteriorating source water are not common knowledge among most citizens. Des Moines Water Works is hosting the third annual Citizen Water Academy – a free, four-session crash course about the history, use and management of water in the central Iowa region. 

The Citizen Water Academy is designed to help community members learn and appreciate our most important natural resource – the water we depend on for life. Selected participants will receive 16 hours of instruction, tour multiple treatment plants operated by Des Moines Water Works, listen to presentations from soil, water and environmental professionals, and interact with Des Moines Water Works staff over the four sessions of this program. It is the goal that participants not only come away from the Academy with a better understanding of their local water utility, but are also equipped to help lead the conversation on important water issues now and in the future.

“You covered a lot of information in a short amount of time. 
I’m impressed with the program.”

– Katie Rock, Polk Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner; Citizen Water Academy 2018 graduate

The previous Water Academy cohorts included participants from all backgrounds – Des Moines Water Works customers, Des Moines area city councilmembers and staff, county supervisors, young professionals, writers, teachers, and more.  For more information and to apply to be a part of the 2019 Citizen Water Academy class, visit www.CitizenWaterAcademy.com.

“Excellent speakers with quality information. This will help me be a much better citizen and advocate.”

 – Patricia Prijatel, Drake Professor Emerita and health writer; Citizen Water Academy 2018 graduate

Candidates must commit to attending all four sessions:

Session 1: Thursday, October 24, 1:00-5:15 pm

Session 2: Thursday, October 31, 1:00-5:30 pm

Session 3: Wednesday, November 6, 1:00-5:00 pm​

Session 4 and Graduation: Wednesday, November 13, 1:00-5:00 pm

The deadline to apply is September 20, 2019. Des Moines Water Works staff will review all applications, give consideration to ensure the class composition is diverse and regionally balanced, and select no more than 24 candidates.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Customers, Value of Water May 2, 2019

DMWW Community Partnerships

Des Moines Water Works is committed to being a vital contributor to the betterment of our community. Each year, sponsorship applications are considered from community organizations that advance the utility’s mission, vision and strategic initiatives. Since 2015, Des Moines Water Works has provided $84,500 in cash sponsorships and $30,000 in in-kind technical assistance to local organizations or academia with environmental studies, curriculum or events designed to build appreciation for the value of water or increase research and awareness for source water quality and quantity. In 2018, a few of those local organizations Des Moines Water Works sponsored include:

Our Water Our Land Video Series – With Des Moines Water Works’ sponsorship, Drake University’s Agricultural Law Center produced 30 educational videos that include timely, interesting, and honest information about a range of important social, political, and economic issues. Our Water Our Land video series brings a more educational, thought provoking, and balanced discussion on water quality and soil health. More information: www.aglawcenter.wp.drake.edu/our-water.

Polk County/Beaver Creek Watershed Management Authority – As a large watershed feeding Des Moines Water Works’ river source, Des Moines Water Works provided sponsorship dollars to Polk County in support of a Beaver Creek comprehensive watershed plan. Watershed Management Authorities and their planning and management within a watershed is integral to water quality improvement in Iowa.

Water Rocks! – An award-winning education program through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Water Rocks! helps students, teachers and parents learn the science of water quality through music. Des Moines Water Works provided sponsorship dollars in order to bring their exciting program into Des Moines Public Schools. More information:
www.waterrocks.org.

In addition, you may have seen a Des Moines Water Works mobile water stations at a recent community event, festival or charity. Since 2012, Des Moines Water Works has provided free mobile water stations to more than 20 events each year, including the Downtown Farmers Market, Des Moines Arts Festival, 80/35 Music Festival, and Iowa State Fair Parade. These mobile water stations encourage visitors to bring their own reusable water bottles to events to stay hydrated and eliminate bottled beverage waste.

Des Moines Water Works thanks all its community partners working to provide important programs supporting safe and affordable drinking water.

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Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Education, Value of Water January 10, 2019

Water Regionalization Update

Des Moines Water Works has been an independent water utility since 1919. For 100 years, it has provided Des Moines with safe and abundant drinking water that has allowed the city to flourish. Since 1934, Des Moines Water Works has been providing drinking water to central Iowa communities outside of the city of Des Moines, helping the entire region grow and providing savings through economies of scale.

While Des Moines Water Works currently acts as the primary regional producer of water, we believe current and future challenges for producing water could be better met through expanded representation and involvement in decision-making, rate-setting, and capital planning, and by more equitably sharing costs and spreading the assumption of risk among the people and governments of the region.

In recent years, Des Moines Water Works has worked alongside its suburban wholesale customers to find appropriate ways that they could be included in important ratemaking and planned infrastructure decisions. Over the past two years, these discussions have been formalized and professionally facilitated by FCS Group of Redmond, Washington, with the goal of providing a pathway to create a regional water production authority for central Iowa that maximizes water resource management.

The formal discussions between three local independent water utilities (Des Moines Water Works, Urbandale Water Utility and West Des Moines Water Works) and surrounding communities have been beneficial. Each community and entity brings its own unique perspective and specific needs to the table, and after spending hundreds of hours listening and discussing these important issues, we are all more aware of each community’s needs regarding water now and into the future. At the same time, other communities and water producers are still actively pursuing new water production expansion of their own, which only complicates matters even more.

The good news is that the lines of communication between all parties remain open and productive. Des Moines Water Works will continue to invest time and resources to find a solution that will benefit the community at large. Safe and abundant drinking water is not just a necessity for continued economic growth in our area, but it is a vital necessity for life itself.

While an acceptable model for expanded regional governance of and participation in water production in central Iowa has yet to be developed, Des Moines Water Works remains committed to working with all parties interested in exploring ways to increase participation and representation in the governance of water production.

As we continue to explore water production solutions for the region, we will keep you updated on public meetings and important information. View information from the process thus far at: 
www.dmww.com/about-us/board-of-trustees/central-iowa-regional-water.

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Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees September 19, 2018

Critical Infrastructure Upgrades Since 1993

Water is one of the most useful things on Earth and also one the most powerful. As the Des Moines metro area prepared to celebrate 25 years of progress from the historic Flood of 1993, residents once again witnessed firsthand the devastating force of nature during the flash flooding of late June 2018, with pockets of the metro area receiving 6 to 10 inches in a matter of hours. Tributaries of the Raccoon River and Des Moines River reached record or near-record levels. The localized flash flooding caused significant damage to many homes and businesses.

After monitoring river projections through the late evening, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) staff began flood preparations for the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant in the early morning hours of July 1. While the Raccoon River at Fleur Drive did not reach record stages like the Flood ’93, the physical and informational changes made since 1993 have been tested numerous times:

  • Levees surrounding the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant were built up an additional 6 feet.
  • Flood gates were installed around Fleur Drive Treatment Plant and George Flagg Parkway General Office.
  • Stormwater upgrades inside Fleur Drive Treatment Plant were made to protect against internal flooding during heaving rains.
  • Access to the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant during a flood event were improved with the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway interchange construction.
  • Critical support functions at the General Office were relocated to ensure access of important data.
  • Two additional water treatment plants – L.D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir and Saylorville Water Treatment Plant – were built to create redundancy in our water treatment capabilities.
  • Three Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells were also constructed to provide redundancy.
  • Real-time river data from United States Geological Survey, National Weather Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were made available. The availability to this important data is invaluable to staff for emergency planning and preparation.

(photo of Fleur Drive Treatment Plant flood gates during 2008 flood)

With these critical infrastructure upgrades, Des Moines Water Works is able to remain committed to providing safe, affordable and abundant water service, even in times of crisis.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Flooding, Infrastructure September 10, 2018

Gallery ‘Flooding Station’ 100 Years Old

Des Moines Water Works Fleur Drive Treatment Plant has the option of three different sources of raw water. The first and best source is a shallow groundwater collection system called the Infiltration Gallery. The Gallery system is a three-mile long, porous pipe constructed with concrete rings. The gallery runs parallel to the Raccoon River in Water Works Park from SW 46th Street to Fleur Drive. It collects naturally-filtered water from the sand and gravel of the river valley. The concrete rings are four and five feet in diameter and two feet long and are held slightly apart so water can trickle into the pipe. The Gallery system at Des Moines Water Works dates back to 1884, when the first 260 feet was constructed. By 1910, over 6,000 feet of Gallery had been excavated and placed in service.

Prior to 1910, when Des Moines’ water supply was deficient, trenches were dug in nearby sandbars or whole surfaces of sandbars were cleaned off to allow them to flood at a shallow depth and augment the water supply to the Gallery. After Gallery extensions were made in 1910, “emergency filters” were also constructed to collect water for infiltration. Thus began the construction of the current ponds in Water Works Park to augment the water supply to the Gallery.

During the drought of 1916 and after, extremely low water levels were artificially increased using a temporary pumping station to pump water from the Raccoon River onto a low-lying area. About five million gallons per day (mgd) were pumped onto the ground to flood an area of about four acres. Since this worked so effectively at increasing water supplies in the Gallery, it was decided to build a permanent pumping station at this location in 1918. It was placed into service in February 1919, and contained two motor-driven centrifugal pumps that could each pump 5 mgd. Since it was originally used to flood the land, it became known as a ‘flooding station,’ not pumping station.

One interesting fact about the Gallery flooding station is who the architect was: Norman T. Vorse. Mr. Vorse was a well-known architect of the time. He designed many Des Moines landmarks, including Court Avenue Bridge, Des Moines Municipal Courthouse (now the home of Des Moines Police Department) and Hoyt-Sherman Auditorium.

The Infiltration Gallery provided all the water to the Des Moines area until 1949. Increased water demand required construction of an intake on the Raccoon River in 1949, and the drought of 1977 precipitated construction of an intake on the Des Moines River in 1980. Today, the Infiltration Gallery system provides the first 20 million gallons of water each day, and a century later, the flooding station is still in use.

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Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Infrastructure, Source Water August 1, 2018

2018 Citizen Water Academy

Though Des Moines Water Works has successfully supplied safe, abundant and affordable drinking water to central Iowans for almost 100 years, the associated planning, production, distribution, monitoring and challenges presented by contaminated source water are not common knowledge among most citizens.  With water quality on the minds of Central Iowans, Des Moines Water Works is hosting it’s second annual Citizen Water Academy of Central Iowa in an effort to engage the public in more detail about the evolution of drinking water and understand plans for the future that meet the growing needs of our community. Last year, DMWW hosted 24 participants in the inaugural Citizen Water Academy.

The Citizen Water Academy of Central Iowa is designed to help current and emerging leaders in our community learn and appreciate our most important natural resource; the water we depend on for life.  Attendees will receive 16 hours of instruction, tour multiple treatment plants operated by Des Moines Water Works, listen to presentations from soil and water professionals, and interact with our expert Des Moines Water Works staff over the four sessions of this program.  It is our hope that participants not only come away from the Water Academy with a better understanding of their local water utility, but are also equipped to help lead the debate on important water issues now and in the future.

What to Expect

All sessions are held at Des Moines Water Works general office.

Session 1: Wednesday, October 10, 1:00-5:00 pm

Theme: Imagine a Day Without Water

Session 2: Thursday, October 25, 1:00-5:30 pm

Theme: What is the value of clean water?

Session 3: Thursday, November 1, 1:00-5:00 pm

Theme: Working to protect source water

Session 4 and Graduation: Wednesday, November 7, 1:00-5:00 pm

Theme: Putting knowledge into practice

There is no tuition, fee, or charge to apply to attend the Citizen Water Academy.  For more information on the Citizen Water Academy and to apply to be a part of the 2018 class.  For more information and to apply, visit www.citizenwateracademy.com

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Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service 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 October 16, 2017

Des Moines Water Works Inaugural Citizen Water Academy

Des Moines Water Works hosted 24 participants (including metro area County Supervisors, Public Works Directors, public health professionals, and business, neighborhood and education leaders) for the first session of the Citizen Water Academy on October 12; which coincided with a nationwide initiative called, “Imagine a Day Without Water.”  While most people understand that water is important, many still take it for granted.  It is our hope that participants not only come away from the Citizen Water Academy with a better understanding of their local water utility, but are also equipped to help lead the discussion on important water issues in our community.

The concept of a Citizen Water Academy is not one that was born here at Des Moines Water Works.  It is something Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager Bill Stowe was made aware at a conference among his peers of the largest water utilities in the country.   The San Diego County Water Authority has been offering its Citizen Water Academy since 2014.  They had a need to better educate the public and community leaders about water management during a severe drought.  While the challenges in Des Moines are different than those in San Diego, we too have a need to better educate and engage the public that depends on us for safe and abundant drinking water.

Des Moines Water Works has successfully supplied drinking water to central Iowans for nearly 100 years; however, the associated planning, production, distribution, monitoring and challenges presented by deteriorating source water are not common knowledge among most citizens.  The Citizen Water Academy is designed to help current and emerging leaders in our community learn and appreciate our most important natural resource, the water we depend on for life.  Participants will receive a total of 16 hours of instruction, tour multiple treatment plants operated by Des Moines Water Works, listen to presentations from soil and water experts, and interact with expert Des Moines Water Works staff over the four sessions of the program.  The goal of the Citizen Water Academy is to arm citizens with data and information to better understand the workings of a drinking water utility.  Additionally, participants learn some of the challenges Des Moines Water Works faces on a regular basis in delivering safe, affordable and abundant drinking water to over 500,000 people in central Iowa.

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Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Customers