Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

August 24, 2017

Purple Martin Lake Water Resource Area Opens for Public Use

The metro’s newest recreational area is open for outdoor enthusiasts. On Thursday, August 24, Des Moines Water Works, along with Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the City of West Des Moines and the Friends of Walnut Woods State Park held a grand opening of Purple Martin Lake Water Resource Area, located off Army Post Road, southwest of Walnut Woods State Park.

Purple Martin Lake Water Resource Area is owned by Des Moines Water Works and was a former sand, rock and gravel quarry that now serves dual purposes of drinking water source for Des Moines Water Works customers and recreational use.  The area will offer hiking, jogging and walking, along with all non-motor recreation on the water, similar to Maffitt Reservoir.

“The former quarry provides an operational benefit to Des Moines Water Works’ ability to produce safe, affordable and abundant drinking water to 500,000 central Iowans; however, it was recognized early on the inherent benefits of the property.  Des Moines Water Works appreciates the initiative and dedication of Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff to manage the property as an extension of Walnut Woods State Park.  This partnership is consistent with Des Moines Water Works goal of stewardship of public land, and will additionally provide an opportunity to highlight the story of water,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works.

Through an agreement with Des Moines Water Works, the DNR will manage Purple Martin Lake Water Resource Area and the area surrounding the lake as an extension of the DNR’s neighboring Walnut Woods State Park.

“We are thrilled to oversee this new hub for outdoor recreation. This area will provide one more option locally to get outside and enjoy the great resources Iowa has to offer. It is a top priority for the DNR to provide great areas like this to help attract newcomers outdoors to enjoy nature,” said Chuck Gipp, Director, Iowa DNR.

The area is named after the Purple Martin bird species and has several Purple Martin birdhouses and an area for visitors to view the birds. The name came about and project came to fruition through collaboration among the Des Moines Water Works, Department of Natural Resources, City of West Des Moines and the Friends of Walnut Woods State Park. The Purple Martin is the largest North American swallow but their populations are undergoing long-term declines in many parts of North America.  Purple Martins rely almost entirely on human-supplied housing and IDNR had grant money for the installation of a number of Purple Martin houses.

The area will be open daily from 6:00 am – 10:30 pm.

Directions From Interstate 35 and/or Hwy 5:  From Interstate 35 take exit 68 (Hwy. 5).  From Hwy. 5 take exit #102 (35th St.) for Walnut Woods State Park.  Drive North to Army Post Rd.  then turn left (west) on Army Post Rd.  to SE 42nd St.  Continue west on Army Post Rd. for .4 miles to the entrance to Purple Martin Lake.

From Interstate 235 take exit for 63rd St./Hwy. 28 south.  Take Hwy. 28/63rd St. south (crossing Grand Ave. & Park Ave.) to Army Post Rd./Willow Creek St.  Turn right/west on Army Post Rd./Willow Creek St. to Veterans Pkwy. Turn left/south on Veterans Pkwy then turn right again(west) on Army Post Rd. go west on Army Post Rd. to SE 42nd St continue on Army Post Rd. for .4 miles to entrance to Purple Martin Lake.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Parks, Source Water June 12, 2017

How much longer will Iowa keep ignoring source water quality?

Listen to news reports about water quality efforts in Iowa, and you might start to think that no one wants to admit there’s a problem with Iowa rivers, lakes and streams.

Take, for example:

  • State legislators failed to pass any water quality legislation to protect the public health of Iowa citizens last session despite saying that it was a top priority.
  • Recent reports indicate that, in the past seven years, a whopping 750,000 conservation acres in Iowa have been ripped up and put back into production—to the detriment of water quality efforts and costing Iowa taxpayers $760 million in environmental benefits.Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey asserts that enrolling a paltry 3% of Iowa farmers in a cover crop program indicates “exciting momentum” for the voluntary-only Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
  • Iowa Partnership for Clean Water (a front for Iowa Farm Bureau) claims population growth is the major driver for expansion of Des Moines Water Works’ Nitrate Removal facility.

Water experts know, however, nitrate levels in Iowa’s waterways regularly exceed the public health threshold. Despite building the world’s largest Nitrate Removal Facility in 1992, adding off-river storage, treatment ponds and two additional water treatment plants, the costs and difficulty to remove nitrate from source water continue to escalate.  Rising nitrate concentrations in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers now require Des Moines Water Works to plan for several nitrate management projects in order to comply with the drinking water standard. The first project is the design then construction of an expanded Nitrate Removal Facility that will double treatment capacity from 10 million gallons per day (mgd) to 20 mgd.

Think Downstream – It’s time to confront the very real issues facing Iowa’s polluted waterways.

  • The responsibility for cleaning up agricultural water pollution from tile outlets has been placed squarely on the shoulders of our state legislature. Environmental impacts must be considered.
  • A plan must be formulated for the Nutrient Reduction Strategy that includes a timeline, benchmarks and water quality metrics to assess progress. Start with the Raccoon and Des Moines River Watersheds.
  • Establish a sustainable, adequate funding source that incorporates state, federal and private money and methodically targets and solves pollution problems in the Raccoon and Des Moines River Watersheds.
  • Adopt a set of basic standards of care required on agricultural lands tailored to the landscape that include no-till, cover crops, grass waterways and setbacks from waterways – in other words, industrialized agriculture with a conscience.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Conservation, Source Water, Water Quality May 29, 2017

Community Partner: Whiterock Conservancy

Water is the great equalizer that crosses all imposed boundaries. Rivers connect communities and also protect many of the remaining wildlife corridors throughout the state of Iowa. Connect with your river this Memorial Day weekend at Raccoon River Days at Whiterock Conservancy, sponsored by Des Moines Water Works.

The four-day festival kicks off on Friday, May 26. Join Whiterock staff and regional naturalist to learn more about your community and watershed, with an educational river walk, river cleanup, demonstration programs, fishing derby, concert by Bob Dorr and the Blue Band, and much more. A full listing of event details can be found at whiterockconservancy.org or call (712) 684-2697 for more information.

Located just over an hour northwest of Des Moines in Coon Rapids, Whiterock Conservancy was formed ten years ago to manage one of the largest land gifts in the history of Iowa generously given by the Garst family. It stewards 5,500 acres along the scenic Middle Raccoon River Valley near Coon Rapids, Iowa. The Whiterock landscape is a mix of savannas, rolling pastures, native and restored prairies, wetlands, riverside bluffs, fishing ponds, crop ground, and unique historic, geologic, and archaeological sites.

Whiterock Conservancy offers over 40 miles of trials for hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and paddlers that wind through prairie, savanna, forest and fields. With three campgrounds, rooms and cottages for rent, it’s a great outdoor adventure for all ages.

Des Moines Water Works is committed to building awareness and appreciation for source water quality and quantity, and is pleased to sponsor Whiterock Conservancy Raccoon River Days this summer.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Conservation, Source Water May 15, 2017

Energy Management

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

Des Moines Water Works’ program began in June 2014, with the signing of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office to pursue Superior Energy Performance (SEP) certification. A requirement for SEP is to first be certified to ISO 50001, the international standard for energy management. Published in 2011, the ISO 50001 Energy Management System (EnMS) standard is a globally accepted framework for managing energy, providing technical and management strategies for enterprises to increase energy efficiency, reduce costs, and improve environmental performance.

Des Moines Water Works then assigned energy management responsibilities to an existing staff member who received intensive training from Georgia Tech. Having a Certified Practitioner in Energy Management Systems (CP EnMS) on staff rather than hiring consultants is another way to be good stewards of ratepayer dollars.

Implementing an Energy Management System is critical to creating a systematic approach to improving our energy efficiency. Certification has many advantages. With systematic energy management, the company’s energy use is measured from the source to the customer. As a result, potentials for cutting operational costs can be detected and put into place. In the long run, we not only reduce our energy consumption but also demonstrate our commitment to sustainability to our customers, employees, suppliers, and regulators.

Following ISO 50001 protocol, an Energy Policy was developed to guide the company. An Energy Team was formed and includes personnel from all areas of the organization. The team is charged with putting everything in place to achieve ISO 50001 certification in 2017, making Des Moines Water Works one of the first public water utilities in the world to achieve the certification.

To submit a comment or energy saving suggestion, please fill out this suggestion form.  For more information on Des Moines Water Works’ energy management program contact Doug Oscarson, CP EnMS, at (515) 283-8708 or oscarson@dmww.com

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Conservation, Employees, Environment, Green Initiatives March 5, 2015

2015 Environmental Impact Awards

Envir. Impact Award LogoIn central Iowa, we are very fortunate to have many organizations that make environmentally sustainable practices a priority. To recognize their efforts and identify the positive impact they make on our communities, the Environmental Impact Awards were established.

Partners Make the Environmental Impact Awards Possible
Des Moines Water Works joins Greater Des Moines Partnership, Center on Sustainable Communities (COSC) and Metro Waste Authority to recognize local organizations and leaders dedicated to sustainability in the Greater Des Moines area. If you know, or are associated with an organization that should be recognized for their efforts, please consider submitting an award application for the Environmental Impact Awards.

Applications Available Online

You can nominate an organization in these areas:

Best water management practices will receive a special honor.

Applications for the Environmental Impact Awards will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11.

2015 Award Recipients Announced on Earth Day
Winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22. Award recipients will be honored at a luncheon on May 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the Windsor Heights Community Center in Colby Park.

For more information, contact the Greater Des Moines Partnership at (515) 286-4950.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customers, Environment, Water Quality July 8, 2014

Using Water Wisely

Watering with garden hoseHot, dry weather is upon us. By far, the highest water use during hot, summer days is for lawn or turf irrigation. There are many sophisticated automated, in-ground lawn sprinkler systems in use today; however, these systems require regular maintenance to operate efficiently. Even the most properly maintained system can be operated unwisely.

Des Moines Water Works, in cooperation with other Des Moines metro area water utilities, has developed the “Using Water Wisely” program. This is an educational, voluntary customer program aimed at reducing water use during hot, dry summer days. Customers can do this by eliminating lawn watering during the hottest part of the day (10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m.). This watering approach reduces the peak load on water facilities which extends their capacity and useful life. In addition, it is important to remember:

  • Test irrigation systems each spring to ensure there are no leaking sprinkler heads and that each head is properly directing its spray onto the turf and landscape.
  • For in-ground irrigation systems, install a moisture sensor that will turn off the irrigation system during its normal run cycle when there has been sufficient rainfall.
  • When possible, avoid laying sod or grass seed during the month of July and the first three weeks of August. These typically are the hottest months of the year. New sod has no established root system and therefore requires daily watering during hot summer days to keep it alive. Beginning the last week in August and through the fall is the best time for laying sod and grass seed.
  • Consult your preferred garden center, lawn or landscape professional for tips and consultation for your specific lawn and landscape care and watering needs.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customer Service, Customers March 6, 2014

Water Shortage Plan

Iowa weather is nothing if unpredictable. If conditions turn unfavorably dry and hot this summer, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) remains concerned about water quality and the quantity of water resources available for drinking water supplies.  To prepare for seemingly unpredictable conditions,  Des Moines Water Works has developed a Water Shortage Plan to guide utility activities and communications in the event a drought persists this summer.

What does this mean to you as a DMWW customer?  It means you may be asked to reduce water consumption, particularly in regards to irrigation.

Layout 1_Page 1 So that customers do not experience quality, availability, or pressure issues during periods of extreme water demand, this plan has several progressive stages that begin with DMWW requesting that customers voluntarily reduce turf irrigation by 25%. If demand continues to exceed 80% of DMWW’s capacity to produce quality drinking water, the plan progresses to more restrictive stages outlining a mandatory prohibition on all turf irrigation and sprinkler systems. Enforcement at this latter stage may also carry consequences, such as the termination of water for turf irrigation and/or an escalated water shortage rate structure.  If conditions turn extreme and water supplies are critically impaired, the water shortage rate structure allows for winter usage (March, April, May usage) throughout the summer, and any usage over that winter baseline will be charged at four (4) times the normal water rate.

The complete plan can be viewed here, or in person at Des Moines Water Works’ General Office, located at 2201 George Flagg Parkway, in Des Moines.

With the help of all customers becoming wise water users and working together, Des Moines Water Works can effectively and efficiently use the available water supply to provide Water You Can Trust for Life.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customers, Rates January 7, 2014

Seeking Applications for Environmental Impact Awards

Envir. Impact Award LogoThe Greater Des Moines PartnershipCenter on Sustainable Communities, Des Moines Water Works and Metro Waste Authority will honor local organizations and leaders for their sustainability efforts in the Greater Des Moines area. Environmental Impact Award applications will be accepted through Friday, March 14, 2014, at 4:30 p.m.  Winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22.

Organizations that are dedicated to sustainability, or have made notable contributions to positively impact the environment, are encouraged to apply. Now in its fourth year, the Environmental Impact Awards honor organizations in the following categories:

  1. Businesses (large and small)
  2. Civic organizations (governmental and non-governmental)
  3. Built environment (residential and commercial construction).

Special honors will be given to an award winner for the best water management practices and an award winner for the best energy efficiency practices.  The award applications are available at www.desmoinesmetro.com/events.

Last year’s award winners were DART Central StationOakridge Neighborhood Teen CenterThe ReWall CompanyUnity Point Health – Des MoinesIowa Legal Aid, and City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation.  Their many sustainability initiatives are highlighted at www.WhereItShouldGo.com/EIA.

Winners will be recognized at the Environmental Impact Awards luncheon from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21, at the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge in West Des Moines. For more information, contact the Greater Des Moines Partnership at (515) 286-4950.  Media inquiries should be directed to Reo Menning, Metro Waste Authority public affairs director, at (515) 244-0021 or rme@mwatoday.com.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customers, Environment May 23, 2013

Managed Irrigation Requested, Even as Drought Conditions throughout Central Iowa Improve

Des Moines Water Works is asking metro area customers – residential and commercial – to manage seasonal irrigation for the next several weeks, even as drought conditions throughout the state continue to improve.

Due to the recent historic nitrate concentrations found in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers, Des Moines Water Works is not currently pulling water from either river.  The utility is able to meet current demand by relying on other water sources, including Maffitt Reservoir, Crystal lake and aquifer storage wells.  If demand increases, Des Moines Water Works will have no choice but to start taking water from the heavily polluted rivers, and may be unable to remove nitrate in a manner that keeps up with high demand.

“Although drought conditions are no longer an immediate threat to Central Iowa, increased nitrate levels from agricultural run-off, coupled with high demand, puts Des Moines Water Works in a difficult position,” Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “With the assistance of all metro customers using water wisely, Des Moines Water Works can effectively and efficiently use the available water supply to provide safe drinking water that does not violate nitrate standards.”

Wise use of water is defined as identifying efficient lawn irrigation practices, taking advantage of technological advances to eliminate waste, as well as being alert to and repairing leaking household fixtures or other large water consumption appliances in homes and businesses.

Wise water best practices for residential and commercial irrigation use include:

  • Avoid lawn watering, whether from an in-ground sprinkler system or manual sprinkler, during the day time hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.  Evaporation from the sun is highest during this time period and less water is absorbed into the soil, meaning more water must be used to get the same effect than if watering is done outside these hours.
  • Shift watering to no more frequently than the ODD numbered days of the week if your house address ends with an ODD number and EVEN numbered days if your house address ends with an EVEN number.  For example, if your house number is “1521,” it is suggested that you water on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and so on days of the month.
  • Test the irrigation system each spring to ensure there are no leaking sprinkler heads and that each head is properly directing its spray onto the turf and landscape.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customer Service, Customers, Water Quality April 5, 2013

2013 Environmental Impact Awards

The Center on Sustainable Communities, Des Moines Water Works, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Metro Waste Authority and MidAmerican Energy will honor six organizations with Environmental Impact Awards at a luncheon on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The awards program will take place from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge, 2500 Grand Avenue, West Des Moines.Envir. Impact Award Logo

The Environmental Impact Awards were established in 2011to recognize organizations and leaders who exemplify environmentally sustainable practices. The 2013 Award Winners are:

Built Environment (presented by Center on Sustainable Communities)

Business (presented by Greater Des Moines Partnership)

Civic (presented by Metro Waste Authority)

Two organizations will receive special recognition for excellence in water management and energy efficiency at the May 15 luncheon. These excellence awards are provided by Des Moines Water Works and MidAmerican Energy, respectively.

Tickets for the luncheon are $25 per person and registration is available online at www.icosc.com.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Conservation, Environment