Archive for the ‘About Us’ CategoryApril 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.
In 1927, the Des Moines Federation of Women’s Clubs petitioned to the Board of Water Works Trustees to install a municipal water softening plant to save customers money spent on soap and wear and tear on clothes. For the next 20 years there were arguments for and against construction of such a facility and then World War II delayed progress of this project until 1947.
A lengthy feature article titled “City to Enjoy Soft Water in Two Years” appeared in The Des Moines Register in November 1947. It described the advantages of soft water and the method of treatment that would be used, and mentioned that cost of the operation of the plant might have to be financed through a raise in water rates. The state health department engineer was quoted as saying the usual experience is that the added cost of soft water is equaled by the saving in soap alone. He also mentioned additional savings, such as longer life of boilers and water heaters.
In December 1949, the filter and lime softening plant went into operation. It consisted of two underground basins, each with a four million gallon capacity, and the filter building which housed the laboratory, chemical feed operations, and eight filters. The filters resemble small swimming pools, each of which contains 100 tons of gravel and 130 tons of sand and holds approximately 50,000 gallons of water.
In the underground basins, lime is mixed with water to remove minerals and kill bacteria. Then the water was pumped to the filters, where it was cleaned by passing through layers of gravel and sand.
In 1958, the capacity of the filter plant doubled when two lime softening basins and eight filters were added.
The filter and lime softening processes are vital to treating the public water supply and are still being used today.
View this important video about Des Moines Water Works’ locate program, water infrastructure and treatment process.
Video produced by Iowa One Call.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Iowa One Call, Water Treatment Posted in About Us, Customer Service, Customers, Water Treatment November 7, 2012
In early 1928, a log cabin was built to provide winter shelter for workers who were clearing the back tracts of the water supply grounds. Nestled among the trees in the western portion of the park and built of native wood, the cabin and outdoor stone fireplace were made available to the general public when the park opened in April 1933.
An article published in the April 19, 1933, issue of the Des Moines Tribune said, “The log cabin on the Des Moines Water Works grounds is one of the most popular picnic spots in the city. Charles S. Denman, manager of the water company, said that the cabin, which was opened to the public April 1, is booked for the remainder of the season, which will end September 1. Denman said his office has had as high as 80 applications in one day for use of the cabin by Des Moines organizations. Reservations include lodges, bridge groups, Sunday school classes, church congregations, sororities, sewing circles, and ladies’ aid societies.”
By 1955, the cabin was in such disrepair that it was torn down, but the fireplace and chimney were left and are still standing.Today the “log cabin area” is a popular spot for scouting events.
A reliable supply of clean, healthy water to your home or business requires a lot of things and one of the most critical is Des Moines Water Works employees. Healthy, safe workers are paramount to delivering water you can trust for life.
Des Moines Water Works has many layers of safety to protect employees as well as the public. For example, Des Moines Water Works has a fleet of nearly 100 vehicles, so driving safety is paramount to employees as well as the public. When you’re on Fleur Drive, downtown, a major street or residential area, watch for orange signs and cones. They aren’t just placed there for your inconvenience. They protect Water Works employees while working and protect the public while driving. Water Works employees go through regular training to know federal requirements on the proper set up of these temporary traffic control situations.
Other steps taken to protect employees includes an employee safety committee, regular safety training, safety inspections and observations, accident investigations and having safety rules, policies and programs in place. Employees receive training and reminders about driving safely from supervisors, the Iowa State Patrol, the Iowa Department of Transportation, and the National Safety Council. Employees also wear proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when needed.
Just like all Des Moines Water employees, buckle up, scan for hazards, and watch your speed. Safety is everybody’s business!Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Employees, Safety Posted in About Us, Customers, Employees October 29, 2012
At Des Moines Water Works, Process Control Operators are essential to providing safe and reliable drinking water to 500,000 customers throughout central Iowa. It isn’t just a job. It matters. Like police officers, fire fighters, and other emergency personal that work to keep our cities safe, water treatment operators are needed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to ensure public health in central Iowa.
Please view this short video to learn more about Process Control Operators at Des Moines Water Works.
There are many career opportunities available in water treatment. With some education and experience, an individual can earn their water treatment licenses enabling them to climb the career ladder. If you think you would enjoy a career in water, DMACC offers a Water Environmental Technology program that provides the skills and ability to become a water treatment operator. For more information, visit https://go.dmacc.edu/programs/water/pages/welcome.aspx.Labels: Career in water, Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Employees, Water Treatment Operator Posted in About Us, Employees October 23, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa (October 23, 2012) – The Board of Water Works Trustees has proposed Des Moines Water Works’ 2013 calendar year budget, which includes a zero rate increase for Des Moines and wholesale water customers. In some communities served by Des Moines Water Works – such as unincorporated Polk County, Pleasant Hill, Cumming, Alleman and Runnells – who have more significant infrastructure needs, Des Moines Water Works has increased rates for residential customers by five percent.
The proposed budget includes $50.4 million of operating revenue. Operating expenses are budgeted at $33.3 million, while capital infrastructure costs are budgeted at $19.4 million. The Board of Water Works Trustees will hold a public hearing for the proposed 2013 budget on Tuesday, November 27, 2012, at 3:30 p.m.
“The Board’s actions are the result of significant efforts by staff to reduce costs during a period of difficult economic challenges for our customers,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manger, Des Moines Water Works. “However, a zero rate increase will not likely be repeated as the Board moves toward greater investment in the water utilities’ infrastructure and rate increases more consistent with the challenges of producing and delivering water.”
For a complete listing of Des Moines Water Works’ 2013 water rate structure, visit www.dmww.com. New water rates will go into effect April 1, 2013, for those customers with rate increases.Labels: Board of Trustees, Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, water rates Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees, Customer Service, Customers, Rates October 8, 2012
There are more than 10,000 hydrants in the Des Moines Water Works distribution system, and while fire hydrants are a familiar sight, we should all be aware of the importance of each hydrant to the community – not only for firefighting, but also for operation and maintenance of the water system.
Because they are so important, the fire hydrants in Des Moines Water Works distribution system receive a lot of attention. Each public fire hydrant receives regular maintenance on a three-year rotating schedule. In addition, each year in the fall, every fire hydrant is inspected to ensure it is not holding water that could freeze and to confirm that it has not been hit by vehicles or damaged in some other way. Most hydrants in the system are designed to break away if they are hit by a vehicle. This reduces damage to the vehicle and the hydrant and allows the hydrant to be returned to service quickly.
Des Moines Water Works is responsible for maintenance of the fire hydrants that fire fighters use to protect our community. Help the local fire department and Des Moines Water Works by following these simple tips to keep fire hydrants working properly and accessible when they are needed:
- Keep cars, bikes, toys and other objects away from fire hydrants at all times.
- During winter months, shovel snow away from fire hydrants.
- Mow and trim grass or weeds around fire hydrants near your property.
- Do not plant flowers or shrubs around fire hydrants.
- Do not paint fire hydrants – the color of the fire hydrant is indicative of water flow available for fire protection.
Unauthorized use of a hydrant can cause significant damage to the distribution system, the hydrant and your home or business plumbing. Additionally, it may cause damage to our water supply. Any unauthorized use of a fire hydrant may result in a $1,500 fine and misdemeanor charges.
If you notice a damaged fire hydrant or witness suspicious activity near a fire hydrant, please call Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700. Your call is important to the fire protection of your home, business and others around you.
Tip: Do you know why the tops or “bonnets” of fire hydrants are painted different colors? Learn here.
From fall to spring, you will find Joe and other laborers in the underground water basins. Here, he drains the four million gallons of water each basin holds and hoses down everything so that it is clean to work in. He then makes any necessary repairs and continues with preventive maintenance after that. The basin crew then fills it back up with water and move on to the next basin.
In the late spring and summer months, Joe is out of the basins for the season. Water production laborers then assist maintenance mechanics and utility mechanics on many different projects at all the different sites Des Moines Water Works manages. This can be quite diverse. One day you may be hanging from a crane hook lowered 30 feet underground and the next day you could be helping install new sleeves and bearings on a 21,000 GPM pump. Along with variety of task, the position also requires working at various sites, such as the Fleur Drive, L.D. McMullen or Saylorville Water Treatment Plants.
Joe says, “I am able to do a multitude of different things at many different sites around the Des Moines metro area. Being a Water Production Laborer has also provided me with the opportunity to learn new skills. That is why I have enjoyed my career in water at Des Moines Water Works.”
Des Moines Water Works has been providing safe drinking water to Des Moines since 1871. Today, Des Moines Water Works serves approximately 500,000 people throughout the Des Moines metro area. Few people realize the importance of providing citizens with safe and reliable drinking water. Like police officers, fire fighters, and other emergency personal that work to keep our cities safe, proper water operators are needed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to ensure public health in central Iowa.
At Des Moines Water Works, there is a Control Center Operator always on duty managing the treatment of the water at all three of Des Moines Water Works’ treatment plants. They also monitor and control the distribution system, which includes 10 pumping stations, 12 booster stations, and 25 water towers throughout the Des Moines metro area.
Depending on the time of day, the priorities of the operator varies. Operators that work the day shift perform numerous processes for cleaning water and replenishing the distribution system. The evening shift operator’s goal is to monitor the distribution system to keep it regulated. The overnight operator focuses on refilling the water towers for the morning rush.
The peak demand for water is usually Monday-Friday from 5:00 am to 10:00 am. The demand will then pick back up during the evening when people get home from work. During the summer, the demand is also high towards the end of the evening when businesses and homeowners typically irrigate lawns. It is important to keep water storage facilities filled for optimal water pressure throughout the distribution system and for use during fire fighting.
The day shift operator also manages chemical deliveries at three treatment plants, which is done remotely from the control center at the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant. There may also be requests from other utility employees related to maintenance of the treatment plants. The overnight shift operator’s responsibility is to prepare the treatment plants for the next day, such as updating all of the logs.
To handle all that needs to be taken care of, Control Center Operators must be able to prioritize all of the requests and duties that they face each shift. They must be able to multitask and handle an emergency in a calm manor. Each shift is different than the one before, but Des Moines Water Works Control Center Operators understand that their role is vital to the health of residents of Des Moines and surrounding areas.