Archive for the ‘About Us’ Category

April 20, 2017

Contact Your State Representative Today

State Representative Jarad Klein is making a last ditch effort to dismantle Des Moines Water Works by sneaking the language from House File 484 into House File 655, which deals with the Local Option Sales Tax for our schools.  It’s bad enough that some in the legislature felt compelled to meddle with local independent utilities, but to try and pass legislation that would impact 500,000 people in central Iowans without people knowing about it is simply wrong. Contact your state representative and tell them to stop playing games with your local water utility.

Last week, Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission (CIRDWC) passed a resolution opposing the legislation that would dissolve independent water utilities in Des Moines, Urbandale, and West Des Moines.  CIRDWC also sent the below letter to State Representatives.

Dear Representative:
The Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission (CIRDWC) respectfully requests that you vote “no” if asked to support HF484, a bill that dissolves the water utility boards of Urbandale, West Des Moines and Des Moines.

Central Iowa currently has a commission to further regionalization — CIRDWC, a coalition of metro area public water suppliers which are already collaborating on regionalization plans. The role of CIRDWC in the coming months will be elevated even further as we endeavor to regionalize.

  • Regionalization is extremely complex and must be left to water professionals. CIRDWC has taken a methodical, data-driven approach to regionalization thus far: production, distribution, permitting, demand projections and asset management decisions are extremely complex and must be left to water professionals—those who have decades of experience in the field.
  • Regionalization should not be forced onto communities that may not be able to afford it. Forced regionalization, if mandated by state law, may force communities to contribute millions of dollars to buy in. Costly and important decisions such as this must be left to local control within the communities.
  • Regionalization is a local interest and should be addressed by local water professionals and leaders who are knowledgeable of the intricacies of our systems and communities, and who wish to work in a collaborative manner towards improved source water quality.
  • Dissolution of the water utility boards and transferring assets and operation into their respective cities as a step toward regionalization is unnecessary. The current bill would dissolve the utility boards of Des Moines, Urbandale and West Des Moines. Nothing is gained by moving the utilities from their current structure to a city department. The forced transition of finances, contracts, employee benefits, etc. will create months of work and chaos not to mention the costs that would be borne by the ratepayers.

Thank you for your time and for your opposition to HF484 and/or any amendments concerning regionalization.

Respectfully submitted,
22 Members of Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 3 Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees, Customer Service January 5, 2017

Turn Talk into Action in the Raccoon River Watershed

On Monday, January 9, the opening gavel will fall, and Iowa’s 2017 state legislative session will begin. Legislators will continue to grapple with the complex and costly issues associated with improving Iowa’s water quality. Des Moines Water Works is committed to being part of the solution and has unveiled its top legislative priorities aimed at restoring and protecting source water quality in the Raccoon River Watershed. Proposed solutions include:

  • Allocate adequate, sustained funding for a statewide water quality plan that holds the largest contributors accountable, leverages public-private partnerships and doesn’t divert funding from other vital state services.
  • Implement a statewide, watershed-based approach, rather than a county-by-county approach, to treating Iowa water quality. Set a timeline for pollution reductions; target and prioritize the most urgent areas; fund and implement water quality monitoring at the sub-watershed level to assess progress; and guarantee public access to water quality data. Transparency and accountability help ensure that limited public resources are used wisely and effectively.
  • Prioritize the entire Raccoon River Watershed for immediate action. Allocate funding to implement a long-term plan that includes full-time,
    permanent coordinators; infrastructure; targeted practices in the
    watershed; measures of progress; and water quality monitoring. Watershed Management Authorities are appropriate mechanisms for implementing the Raccoon River plan.
  • Protect public health by updating agricultural tile drainage laws; i.e. require consideration of environmental and health impacts; ensure edge-of-field mitigation; and implement water quality monitoring at outlets to public waterways.

Des Moines Water Works is committed to protecting the health of 500,000 central Iowans by providing safe, abundant and affordable drinking water and will continue to pursue collaborative efforts, legal remedies, and legislative solutions that ensure cleaner source water for our customers. The year 2017 is said to be the “year of water,” and Des Moines Water Works looks forward to helping craft a plan that results in meaningful improvement in Iowa waterways.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 1 Comment
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Environment, Source Water, Water Quality November 7, 2016

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.

This year, Des Moines Water Works has been pleased to provide $20,000 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:

  • 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 $4,500 to Water Rocks! in order to bring their exciting program into Des Moines elementary and public schools.
  • Walnut Creek Watershed Coalition – Des Moines Water Works awarded $3,000 for the annual Walnut Creek Cleanup and Watershed Festival, as well as educational kiosks throughout the watershed that provide current water quality parameters, including nitrate, phosphorus, pH, turbidity and bacteria.
  • Community Youth Concepts – Des Moines Water Works provided $3,000 to the Youth Volunteer Corps of Des Moines program in order educate youth on the importance of responsible water use. Students learned about silting, erosion, and the public responsibility for watershed management. Teens participated in hands-on service learning related to conservation efforts that will restore wetlands and benefit Iowa’s native wildlife and plants.
  • Raccoon River Watershed Association – Water recreationalists, hikers, birders, hunters and fishermen/women are just a few on a long list that enjoy the land and water along the Raccoon River. Des Moines Water Works awarded the Raccoon River Water Association $3,000 for its annual conference, “Life in the Raccoon,” that educates and promotes the many aspects of the vast and complex Raccoon River Watershed.
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa – Des Moines Water Works awarded Practical Farmers of Iowa $650 to support their annual conference that educates farmers about on-farm practices that will benefit all Iowans through improved water, soil and communities. Practical Farmers of Iowa has been showcasing Iowa farmers’ on-farm innovations that work toward building a strong, sustainable agricultural system in Iowa for over 30 years.

67In addition to monetary donations, this year, Des Moines Water Works donated three water fountain and bottle filling stations to Des Moines Public Schools. These water fountains were placed in Cowles, Goodrell, and Park Avenue elementary schools.  Providing the water fountain and bottle fillings stations promote the availability of Des Moines’ quality tap water to the many students, staff and parents at each school building, and reduce the amount of bottled beverages consumed and improperly discarded in landfills.  Each water station has a ticker display that lets users know how many plastic bottles have been eliminated by using the bottle filling feature.

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

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

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Education, Environment, Value of Water September 9, 2016

Central Iowa Drinking Water Cooperation

Des Moines Water Works has a long history of providing the Des Moines metro area with safe, affordable and abundant drinking water. The utility’s regional approach began as early as 1934, when Urbandale began receiving water from Des Moines Water Works because their wells were going dry and water was being rationed. Since then, most suburban communities have connected to Des Moines Water Works, and Des Moines Water Works remains committed to continuing to be a regional water provider that meets the growing needs of our area.

New CIRDWC LogoWith the assistance of 22 members of the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission, Des Moines Water Works has begun a long range plan to evaluate the Des Moines metro area’s water needs and supply, treatment and distribution capabilities through 2035. This work is important so Des Moines Water Works is able to provide water to growing communities when and where it is needed over the next 20 years.

Des Moines Water Works values our relationship with metro area communities and believes Des Moines and suburban customers alike have benefited from a long standing and strong working relationship. A regional approach provides economies of scale and encourages collaboration in jointly constructed assets and facilities, including treatment plants, storage facilities, and pumping stations. Additionally, a regional approach promotes economic development in the metro area, as communities work together to provide a reliable and adequate water supply to new industries and customers with a heavy reliance on water service.

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Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service May 23, 2016

Travel the Water Treatment Process

Many Des Moines metro area residents turn on the tap without thinking about where their water came from, how  it got there and who made it safe to drink. Whether you are 8 or 98 or anywhere in between, it is important to understand the multi-barrier approach that provides you with a vital public health product. Travel along the Des Moines Water Works’ water treatment process in a two-part video series that explains the many steps taken from river to tap, and the importance to Think Downstream.

To view the videos, visit www.dmww.com/education/education-resources/video.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in About Us, Source Water, Water Quality, Water Treatment January 25, 2016

Community Sponsorships

Des Moines Water Works is committed to being a vital contributor to the betterment of our community. We will consider contributions and sponsorships with external organizations that advance our mission, vision and strategic initiatives.  Visit www.dmww.com/about-us/sponsorships for more information and examples of requests that will and will not be considered.

DMWW MissionThe guidelines provided below are aimed at ensuring that our community giving and involvement meet the following goals:

  1. Provide value to both Des Moines Water Works and the community.
  2. Reflect appropriate and accountable use of public funds.
  3. Strengthen Des Moines Water Works’ outreach efforts.
  4. Enhance Des Moines Water Works’ reputation for leadership in the environment.

Sponsorship and Contribution Guidelines and Considerations:*

Support the communities Des Moines Water Works serves through contributions and sponsorships to civic, nonprofit, education, and business programs, activities and events that:

  • Build awareness and appreciation among the public for the value of water as a vital resource.
  • Build awareness for source water quality and quantity.
  • Align with our missions, strategic goals and annual budget.
  • Build support for our core business objectives.
  • Help build brand awareness of Des Moines Water Works’ mission, vision and value to the community.

*All requests for contributions and sponsorships are subject to budgetary limitations.

How to Submit a Sponsorship Request:

  • Requests must be submitted for consideration at least 60 days prior to the event or activity for which funding is requested.
  • All requests for in-kind or financial support must be made using the Sponsorship Request Form available at www.dmww.com/about-us/sponsorships.
  • After funds are allocated, a follow-up report of the event, program or activity will be required.

 

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Labels: , , , Posted in About Us June 1, 2015

2015 Consumer Confidence Report

Des Moines Water Works is committed to delivering safe, affordable and abundant drinking water to our customers. Safe drinking water is treated water that has been tested for harmful and potentially harmful substances and has met or exceeded drinking water quality standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Iowa. The EPA sets drinking water standards to define the limits of contaminants considered safe for drinking water. These levels are based on studies of the health effects associated with each contaminant and include a sufficient safety margin to ensure that water meeting these standards is safe for nearly everyone to drink. The Consumer Confidence Report is an annual water quality report that helps customers understand the quality and safety of tap water provided by Des Moines Water Works. The current Consumer Confidence Report is now available at: http://www.dmww.com/upl/documents/library/2015ccr.pdf. If you would like a printed copy of the Consumer Confidence Report mailed to you or have any questions about your drinking water, please contact a Customer Service Representative at (515) 283-8700.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service, Water Quality May 5, 2015

Clean Water Act Litigation FAQ

Drainage DistrictA major conduit of nitrate pollution in the Raccoon River watershed is the artificial subsurface drainage system infrastructure, such as those created and managed by drainage districts. Des Moines Water Works recently filed a federal complaint against the Boards of Supervisors of Sac County, Buena Vista County, and Calhoun County, in their capacities as trustees of 10 drainage districts, for the discharge of nitrate pollutants into the Raccoon River.

Why is Nitrate Pollution a Problem?

  • Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Des Moines Water Works is obligated to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards for the maximum contaminate level (MCL) in its finished drinking water. The MCL standard for nitrate is 10 mg/L. The health risks associated with nitrate contamination above MCL include blue baby syndrome and endocrine disruption. In addition to public health risks to drinking water, nitrate pollution also contributes to the hypoxic conditions in public waters, including the Gulf of Mexico’s “Dead Zone.”
  • Des Moines Water Works’ mission is to provide safe, abundant and affordable water to our customers. While Des Moines Water Works has invested millions of dollars in capital infrastructure and has developed strategies to manage high nitrate levels, record nitrate peaks in source waters have threatened and continue to threaten the security of the water supply and the ability of Des Moines Water Works to deliver safe and reliable water, while operating with fiscal discipline.
  • The current denitrification technology is outdated and cannot continue to operate with rising nitrate levels and increased customer demand. Continued high nitrate concentrations will require future capital investments of $76-183 million to remove the pollutant and provide safe drinking water to a growing central Iowa.

Why a Lawsuit?

  • Des Moines Water Works filed a complaint in Federal District Court – Northern District of Iowa, Western Division, on March 16, 2015.
  • The complaint seeks to declare the named drainage districts are “point sources,” not exempt from regulation, and are required to have a permit under federal and Iowa law.
  • The complaint states that the drainage districts have violated and continue to be in violation of the Clean Water Act and Chapter 455B, Code of Iowa, and demands the drainage districts take all necessary actions, including ceasing all discharges of nitrate that are not authorized by an National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
  • In addition, damages are demanded to Des Moines Waters to compensate for the harm caused by the drainage districts unlawful discharge of nitrate, assess civil penalties, and award litigation costs and reasonable attorney fees to Des Moines Water Works as authorized by law.
  • Des Moines Water Works’ mission is to provide safe, abundant and affordable water to our customers. Des Moines Water Works is fighting for the protection of customers’ right to safe drinking water. Through this legal process, Des Moines Water Works hopes to reduce long-term health risks and unsustainable economic costs to provide safe drinking water to our customers, via permit and regulation of drainage districts as pollutant sources.
  • Continued insistence from state leaders that the voluntary approach of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is working does not give solace to the 500,000 central Iowans who must now pay to remove pollution from their drinking water.

Why Sac, Buena Vista, and Calhoun Counties?

  • Buena Vista, Calhoun, and Sac Counties are in the Des Moines Lobe. There are hundreds of drainage districts in these three counties. Under Iowa law, drainage districts are responsible for constructing, administering, and maintaining drainage infrastructure. Within each drainage district, a network of pipes and ditches move groundwater and agricultural pollutants quickly into our drinking water sources.
  • Recent water monitoring by Des Moines Water Works at 72 sample sites in Buena Vista, Sac, and Calhoun Counties have shown nitrate levels as high as 39.2 mg/L in groundwater discharged by drainages districts. This is 4 times the federally required Safe Drinking Water regulatory limit of 10 mg/L.
  • Laws require that “point sources” discharging into rivers must have permits under the NPDES.  Because drainage districts transport nitrate pollution through a system of channels and pipes, they should be recognized and held accountable like every other “point source” contributor. NPDES permits have been successful nationwide in controlling pollution caused by industrial waste and sanitary sewer discharge.
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Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees, Public Policy, Source Water, Water Quality January 8, 2015

Board of Water Works Trustees Issue a Notice of Intent to Sue for Polluted Drinking Water

The Board of Water Works has voted unanimously to issue a notice of intent to sue, under the Clean Water Act and Iowa Code Chapter 455B, to the Sac County Board of Supervisors, Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors and Calhoun County Board of Supervisors in their role as governing authority for 10 drainage districts that are discharging pollutants into the Raccoon River. The affected drainage districts are:

  • Drainage District 32
  • Drainage District 42
  • Drainage District 65
  • Drainage District 79
  • Drainage District 81
  • Drainage District 83
  • Drainage Districts 86
  • Joint Drainage Districts 2-51
  • Joint Drainage Districts 19-26
  • Joint Drainage Districts 64-105

Copies of the notice have also been sent to Governor Terry Branstad; Chuck Gipp, Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Karl Brooks, Region VII Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture; and Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture.

The notice of intent to sue is a 60 day notification under the citizen suit provision of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act) and Iowa Code Chapter 455B.  The notice communicates the intent of the Board of Water Works Trustees to sue for discharge of pollutants into the Raccoon River by point sources without the permits required by law.

Des Moines Water Works uses both the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers as water sources and has experienced extremely high concentrations of nitrate in both rivers in the spring and summer of 2013 and the fall and winter of 2014.  Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for nitrate is 10 mg/L.  This standard is set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Des Moines Water Works is legally obligated to provide clean and safe drinking water that meets this MCL standard.

Recent water monitoring by Des Moines Water Works at 72 sample sites in Sac County has shown nitrate levels as high as 39.2 mg/L in groundwater discharged by drainages districts. These extraordinarily high nitrate levels correlate with measurements by the United States Geologic Survey (USGS), a scientific agency in the United States government at monitoring sites along the Raccoon River.

Water monitoring and scientific analysis have shown that the cause of the high nitrate is the extensive system of drainage infrastructure created and maintained by drainage districts in the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds.  These drainage systems quickly transport nitrate by groundwater to the nearest waterway, bypassing natural absorption and de-nitrification processes that would otherwise protect the watersheds.

“Drainage districts are a source of high nitrate concentration in our water supply and the Sac County Board of Supervisors have failed to take any meaningful action to protect downstream users from unsafe levels of nitrate introduced into the Raccoon River,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works.  “Des Moines Water Works is taking this decisive action to underscore that the degraded condition of our state’s source waters is a very real problem, not just to Des Moines Water Works, but to the 500,000 customers we serve, as well as to Iowans generally who have a right of use and enjoyment of the water commonwealth of our State.  The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a failure. Since its announcement, we have suffered through record nitrate concentrations in both the summer of 2013 and winter of 2014.  It is simply not a credible approach to protect the public health of Iowans who rely on safe drinking water every day. We can no longer rely on voluntarism, rhetoric, and speculation to protect the waters of our state.”

The EPA has set the maximum contaminant level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. Nitrate levels above the MCL are a public health risk. Particularly at risk are infants below six months of age who, if left untreated, could become seriously ill or die.

Nitrate levels above the MCL increases the cost of drinking water treatment for more than 500,000 central Iowa consumers. Standard Des Moines Water Works treatment processes do not remove nitrate from drinking water. Des Moines Water Works staff monitors nitrate concentrations in the source waters and activates a costly nitrate removal facility when necessary in order to produce a safe water supply meeting the MCL.  In 2013, when nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers were at a record high, Des Moines Water Works incurred approximately $900,000 in treatment costs and lost revenues. Moreover, record high nitrate concentrations demand significant future capital investments to remove this pollutant and provide safe drinking water to a growing central Iowa.

“We are not seeking to change agriculture methods, but rather challenging government to better manage and control drainage infrastructure in order to improve water quality within the state. Water quality improvements in Iowa demand accountability for protecting against water degradation by all sectors, including local governments and agriculture,” said Stowe. “Because drainage districts transport nitrate pollution through a system of channels and pipes, they should be recognized and held accountable like any other point source contributor.”

If the named drainage districts do not cease to discharge pollutants without permits or act within 60 days to correct the ongoing violations, Des Moines Water Works will seek relief in federal court under the Clean Water Act and Iowa Code citizen suit provisions.  These laws require that “point sources” discharging into rivers have permits under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).  NPDES permits have been successful nationwide in controlling pollution caused by industrial waste and sanitary sewer discharge.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , , , , Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees, Source Water, Water Quality January 7, 2015

Winter Source Water Problems

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which Congress passed on December 16, 1974, directing EPA to implement a series of regulations and standards to protect public drinking water from source to tap. The law was amended in 1986 and again in 1996 to include additional actions to protect drinking water, including those that recognize the needs for source water protection, training for water system operators, funding for water system improvements, and public information about the quality of treated water to inform water consumers and hold water delivery systems accountable.

Continued high nitrate levels in Des Moines Water Works’ source waters – the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers – forced Des Moines Water Works to activate its nitrate removal facility early December 2014. On December 16, 2014, the 40th anniversary of the SDWA, the denitrification facility remained in use in order to ensure Des Moines Water Works’ finished drinking water was safe for consumption, as defined by the SDWA.

In addition, Des Moines Water Works was forced to use emergency water storage from Maffitt Reservoir at the L.D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant. Water at Maffitt Reservoir is considered emergency storage water for use during exceptional instances of water quantity and water quality. Use of the emergency water today, reduces the amount of storage water available for use during high customer demand periods.

“Des Moines Water Works staff has exercised extensive efforts to reduce nitrate levels to an acceptable level, as prescribed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “Because nitrate continues to be introduced in the watershed at high levels, we are forced to use emergency storage water, in addition to running the nitrate removal facility, in order to maintain delivery of safe drinking water to our customers.”

The EPA’s maximum contaminant level (MCL) for nitrate in finished drinking water is 10 mg/L.  The levels seen in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers last fall and this winter are unprecedented for this time of the year. The monthly averages are as follows:

 

Raccoon River               Des Moines River

September 2014           11.89 mg/L                          7.20 mg/L

October 2014                 13.23 mg/L                         11.15 mg/L

November 2014           13.43 mg/L                         11.96 mg/L

December 2014            12.56 mg/L                         11.14 mg/L                  

Des Moines Water Works remains committed to fighting for cleaner source water on behalf of the 500,000 central Iowans Des Moines Water Works is pleased to serve.

According to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, approximately 92% of nitrate loads enter our water resources through agricultural sources that are not currently being subject to any mandatory regulations, despite longstanding legal mandates to address such pollution.

“While Des Moines Water Works continues to incur costs and reduce available water storage, polluters of the watershed are not regulated,” said Stowe. “This is a public health issue for our customers. We cannot continue to meet the increasing water demand of our customers without regulation of pollutants in our source water.”

In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the EPA prescribes regulations limiting the amount of nitrate levels in water provided by public water systems. The greatest health risk posed by high nitrate concentrations is for infants under six months of age. Nitrate can transform into nitrite in the infant’s body, reducing the ability of the baby’s blood to carry oxygen. This may result in Blue Baby Syndrome. Des Moines Water Works’ finished drinking water nitrate concentration is currently below the level which is indicated to cause these health implications.  If you are caring for an infant, you may wish to seek advice from your healthcare provider.

Despite the high levels of nitrate in the source waters, Des Moines Water Works’ finished drinking water remains safe for consumption.

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