Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

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 February 1, 2013

Drought Preparations

Raccoon River droughtWith continued concerns about drought and a desire to ensure mechanisms are in place with the State of Iowa and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Saylorville, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) requested the release of water from Saylorville on January 16.  For six hours, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., about 5 million gallons of water was released at a rate of 30 cubic feet per second (cfs = 7.5 fluid gallons).  To prepare for possible drought conditions again this summer, DMWW wanted to ensure that a future release could occur in a timely fashion.

In 1982, DMWW signed agreements with the State of Iowa and the United States of America in regards to water storage space in Saylorville Reservoir.  DMWW paid $2.4 million for the storage rights, and we continue to pay $100,000 per year for maintaining a pumping facility.

“Des Moines Water Works has never exercised the process of releasing our water supply at Saylorville Reservoir,” said Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager. “But given last year’s drought conditions, including poor water quality while in short supply, it is in our best interest to test the procedures to protect all our water resources for our ratepayers.”

The State of Iowa has the right to request the release of 18.86% of the volume of water in Saylorville when levels are between 812-836-feet. Two-thirds of that volume would be for DMWW purposes and the other one-third for Alliant Energy in Ottumwa.

There are two components to water release from Saylorville Reservoir:

  1. Water quality release – this release ensures that there is enough water to support the wildlife habitat in and along the river.
  2. Water supply release – the potential additional water release for Des Moines Water Works and Alliant Energy. Saylorville has a specific release plan in place for varying water levels.

The water released from Saylorville Reservoir directly benefits both the Fleur Drive and Saylorville Treatment Plants. DMWW can also release water from Maffitt Reservoir to benefit the L.D. McMullen Treatment Plant as needed, too.

Other proactive measures are already in place in the event of continued drought conditions. DMWW has acquired permits to dredge parts of the Des Moines River if the channel is not bringing enough water to our intake at Prospect Park. We also have a permit to dredge part of the Raccoon River to impact the channel by the flooding station to keep the recharge ponds and Gallery maximized.

Des Moines Water Works plans to meet all of our customer needs by these increasing available supplies of water, but if the drought continues, asking the public to conserve water, particularly in regards to lawn irrigation, may once again be requested.

Posted by: Mike McCurnin No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Conservation, Customer Service, Maffitt Reservoir, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant, Water Treatment