Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

June 18, 2018

Updated Security for Credit Card Payments on DMWW Website

As of June 1, 2018, industry online security standards have changed because previous versions have been shown to be vulnerable to attack.  Companies that accept payments by credit card, including Des Moines Water Works, are no longer supporting the security protocol known as TLS 1.0, and are instead supporting versions TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2.  In order to initiate online transactions from older browsers, it may be necessary to update your PC to include the latest version of your browser.    The minimum accepted versions after June 1, 2018 are:

  • Internet Explorer: 11 (Current 11)
  • Google Chrome: 44 (Current 60)
  • Firefox: 38.1 (Current 55)
  • Edge: 12 (Current 15)
  • Opera: 30 (Current 47)
  • Safari: 9 (Current 11)
  • Safari Mobil: 8 (Current 11)
  • Android OS Browser 5.1 (Current 8)

We strongly recommend users upgrade their internet browser and anti-virus software to the latest version available to maintain the highest level of security.  Customers will be unable to initiate payments online at www.dmww.com until their browser has been updated to the minimum version listed above.

This change is mandated by the PCI (Payment Card Industry) Security Council and affects all merchants and service providers that transmit credit card data. Please update your operating system and browsers to ensure compliance with these new safety protocols.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers February 1, 2018

Water Main Replacement Program

Water main replacement planning is a necessary, preventative approach that saves money on repairs, reduces the loss of water that occurs as a result of the main breaks, and minimizes disruption to customers.  Des Moines Water Works budgets for water main replacement to maintain and upgrade the distribution system by replacing water mains that have a history of breaks, to improve the fire flow, relocating to accommodate city, county, or state construction projects, and upgrading water mains to meet the needs of customers.

Several factors impact which water mains are replaced and the approach to planning for 2018 was different than in years past.  Des Moines Water Works’ Long Range Plan through 2040 included the analysis of water main break data occurring within the system.  Through this analysis, a relative risk score was created based on the assessment of consequence of  failure, likelihood of failure, and a capacity factor.  Pipe segments consisting of risk scores in the highest range are highly recommended for replacement.  Staff from various departments provided input while creating the priority list of streets for water main replacement.  Des Moines Water Works’ 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) includes approximately $7 million of water main replacement each year.  The City of Des Moines also has a 5-year CIP for city streets and sewers.  Des Moines Water Works and the City of Des Moines work collaboratively to choose the streets to be the most cost effective and cause the least disruption to customers.

After each project is designed, Des Moines Water Works will receive bids from contractors and the construction contract will be awarded to the contractor that will be performing the work.  If the bids received allow Des Moines Water Works to complete all the streets within budget, construction will take place in 2018.  Construction not completed in 2018 will take place in future years.  Des Moines Water Works is currently contacting customers directly in the neighborhoods throughout Des Moines and Polk County that have been scheduled for water main replacement in 2018.  Additional customer letters and public meetings will be forthcoming.  Des Moines Water Works appreciates the cooperation and understanding from customers during construction and will work with contractors to minimize the inconvenience to customers impacted by the following projects:

Polk County Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 1

  • NE 14th Street from I-80/35 Westbound Off Ramp to NE 43rd Avenue

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 1

  • Thomas Beck Road from Crown Colony Court to 1401 Thomas Beck Road
  • Fleur Drive from George Flagg Parkway to SW 22nd Street
  • Maple Street from E 2nd Street to E 4th Street
  • E 4th Street from Maple Street to Des Moines Street
  • Alternate Street – Watrous Avenue from SW 14th Street to Glover Avenue

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 2

  • SW 9th Street from Johnson Street to Amos Avenue
  • SW 10th Place from Southdale Drive to County Line Road
  • SW 11th Street from Southdale Drive to County Line Road
  • SW 15th Street from Army Post Road to Johnson Street
  • Alternate Streets – SE 8th Street from E Miller Avenue to E Rose Avenue and Wall Avenue from SW 13th Place to SW 12th Street

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 3

  • Kenyon Avenue from SW 16th Street to SW 9th Street
  • SE 14th Street from E Diehl Avenue to E Thornton Avenue
  • SE 14th Street from E Thornton Avenue to E Watrous Avenue
  • Alternate Street – Pioneer Road from SE 14th Street to 1603 Pioneer Road
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Infrastructure December 29, 2017

On Call 24/7 to Respond to Main Breaks

As cold weather arrives, water main breaks can become more common.  The months of December, January and February bring the highest number of water main breaks.  Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) crews repair an average of 300 water main breaks each year.  Although DMWW has a proactive and aggressive main replacement program, underground water mains can break for a number of reasons including corrosion, frost heave, water temperature, and pressure fluctuations.

When a water main breaks, generally water comes to the surface and flows across the ground to a storm sewer or waterway.  Large water main breaks can reduce water pressure in the area and the flowing water can cause damage.  If you witness a main break or see water flowing in the street, please call Des Moines Water Works Dispatch at 283-8772.  Des Moines Water Works is committed to providing our customers with safe and abundant drinking water.  To honor that commitment, DMWW crews are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to main breaks, ensuring that your service is restored as quickly as possible.

Once a water main break has been confirmed, the exact location of the break is determined using acoustic leak detection equipment.  This equipment listens to the sound the water makes as it exits the pipe and can determine the location of the leak based on the intensity of the sound.  When the location of the leak has been determined, water service in the area must be shut down so the break can be repaired.  Des Moines Water Works uses Automated Notification System to to communicate water outages to affected customers.  For more information and to make sure DMWW has your correct contact information, visit: http://www.dsmh2o.com/automated-notification-system-2/ 

The safety of our employees and the public during a main break repair is a top priority.  Special attention is given to trench safety which protects our employees and to traffic control which protects our employees as well as the traveling public.  Before the water service is restored, the repaired water main is flushed and sampled to restore the best possible water quality.  An average main break takes 4-6 hours to repair.  You can find current water outages at www.dmww.com.

When the water comes back on, there will likely be air in your water service piping.  It is a good idea to run the first water after an outage through a faucet that does not have an aerator screen, such as a bathtub. Open faucets slowly to allow the air to escape.  Air will make a spurting or hissing sound as it escapes through the faucet.  Once the water is flowing, allow the faucet to run for a minute or two. The first water may be cloudy due to air in the water or particles that dislodge as the pipes fill with water. This should clear fairly quickly.  If water is cloudy throughout the house and it does not clear after allowing the water to run for several minutes, contact Des Moines Water Works Dispatch at 283-8772.

If the kitchen or bathroom faucets do not perform normally following a water outage, it may be necessary to remove the aerator screen.  Typically, the aerator can simply be unscrewed from the faucet. Inspect the screen for small particles and rinse away any you find.  Reinstall the aerator and test performance of the faucet again.  If you experience difficulties such as low pressure throughout the house following a water outage, contact Des Moines Water Works Dispatch at 283-8772 for assistance.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers July 25, 2017

Change is Coming

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is excited to announce we have partnered with Invoice Cloud, a web-based, electronic invoice presentment and payment company, to provide faster, more convenient billing services to our customers. The new online payment and e-bill service offers more flexibility in paying DMWW bills, including paperless billing and pay by text. No registration will be required to view an online replica of paper bills or to pay a bill.

Des Moines Water Works chose Invoice Cloud as our new online bill pay service provider due to their commitment to providing the highest standards in Internet security. Invoice Cloud will safely store all of your financial information using Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant systems. This includes truncating (abbreviating) account numbers so that even DMWW does not see your complete account information.

In conjunction with the launch of the Invoice Cloud platform, the convenience fee for all credit/debit card payments made online or by phone will increase to a flat rate of $2.75 per transaction. This includes payments made through our recurring credit card program. DMWW is committed to ensuring customers have a no-cost electronic payment method available, and all electronic check (ACH) transactions, including automatic payments using electronic check, will be free of charge.

In addition, the online transaction limit for credit card payments will decrease from $5,000 to $500 per transaction. These changes will go into effect late summer 2017.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers June 8, 2017

Keep your cool, stay hydrated

We know we need to stay hydrated during these hot days of summer. But what drink is the best? Grab a glass of Des Moines Water Works tap water.

Tap water is safe and affordable

Municipal tap water in the United States is some of the safest water you can drink. You can go to nearly any city in the country and drink the water without giving its safety a second thought. Nonetheless, many people choose to spend more for bottled water. Studies show that bottled water is no safer than tap water, yet bottled water costs almost 2,000% more. An 8 ounce glass of water can be refilled approximately 15,000 times for the same price as a six pack of soda.

Replace sports drinks with H2O

A common myth is sports drinks are needed during and after a sports game or workout to recover. The fact is unless you work out hard for more than one hour, the fluids lost through sweat can be replaced with plain water. Drinking sports drinks when you don’t need them can lead to gaining weight. Sports drinks may be appropriate for competitive sports that last more than one hour, but during the day and at most sports practices, water is the best drink.

More tips to stay hydrated:

  • Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
  • Check on elderly family and neighbors.
  • Remember to replenish your pets’ water dish frequently.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Health, Value of Water May 22, 2017

2017 Utility Goals

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) staff has identified areas of focus for the utility in the coming year, each of which is believed to move the utility in the direction of greater efficiency, better security and planning, or improved employee health.  Quarterly updates will be reported to the Board of Water Works Trustees and published on www.dmww.com.

  1. Customer:  Develop a plan to implement a new billing and customer information system that offers enhanced customer service offerings. Begin implementation in 2017, expected to conclude in 2018.
  2. Technology:  Ensure the security of electronic payments made by customers by implementing Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant payment solutions by June 30, 2017. These changes may include changes to fees and transaction
    limits that will be communicated in advance to customers.
  3. Financial:  Contract an outside consultant to review DMWW’s approach to determining costs by service area (known as the Cost of Service study, which is the basis for rate making decisions), evaluate recommended changes, and develop a plan for implementing adopted changes.
  4. Employee:  Reduce employee OSHA recordable injuries to no more than 9, which is 75% of the industry average.
  5. Planning:  Complete long range planning and update the utility’s 5-year capital improvement plan to ensure a reliable, abundant, and affordable water supply to the metro area through 2040.
  6. Operations:  Optimize operations at DMWW’s newest plant, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant, by designing and installing additional Reverse Osmosis (RO) membranes.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees, Customer Service, Customers, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant 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 March 14, 2017

CENTRAL IOWANS RATE THEIR WATER QUALITY ‘EXCELLENT’ AND OPPOSE HF484/SF456

DES MOINES, Iowa (March 14, 2017) – More than two-thirds of registered voters in the Des Moines metro oppose legislation that would disband the independent governing boards of the Des Moines, Urbandale and West Des Moines water works, and turn over management of the water utility and its assets to their local city councils.

The poll commissioned by the Des Moines Water Works, and conducted by Harper Polling from March 912, shows 68 percent of respondents oppose House File 484, while only 15 percent favor the controversial bill that is making its way through the Iowa legislature.

“The poll confirms what we have believed all along, that the legislation is a solution in search of a problem that does not exist,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works.  “Metro utilities have done an outstanding job for decades of planning and implementing the supply, treatment, and transmissions projects necessary to ensure everyone in the metro has access to quality water in adequate quantities at reasonable rates.”

In addition to surveying residents’ attitudes toward proposed legislation, the poll also found an overwhelming 85 percent of respondents rated the quality of and access to water as “good” or “excellent.”   An equally impressive 86 percent of voters rated the quality of service provided by their water utility as either “good” or “excellent.”

Voters are also clear in who they believe is best qualified to manage their local water utility. A clear majority (55%), believe an independent board of trustees is better suited to manage a water utility than their local city council (23%). This is a topic that bridges political and ideological divides with majorities of Republicans (51%), Democrats (59%), and Independents (55%).

Voters also believe this is an issue that is best dealt with by local residents and not the state legislature. A staggering 88 percent of voters believe that people who live in the community should have the final say over whether or not to remove an independent utility, not the state legislature (5%).

Click the links below to view the full poll results:

17.03 HF 484 IA Toplines

17.03 HF 484 IA Crosstabs-2

17.03 HF 484 IA Key Findings

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 3 Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Customer Service, Customers, Public Policy, Water Quality March 8, 2017

Why You Should Stand Against HF 484


House File 484
is a bill that would disband the governing boards of the Des Moines, Urbandale, and West Des Moines water works. If signed into law, these three independent utilities would be forced to turn over management and their assets to the city councils in each city.

This is a diversion

  • There is no drinking water quality crisis in the Des Moines metro area that would necessitate the state legislature stepping in.
  • The real problem is source water quality in the state. The Legislature should be focused on water quality – not local water production.
  • Metro utilities have done an outstanding job for decades of planning and implementing the supply, treatment, and transmissions projects necessary to ensure everyone in the metro has access to quality water in adequate quantities at reasonable rates.

Legislative overreach

  • This legislation stands in stark contrast to Home Rule (the right for local self-government)
  • Iowa Code Chapter 388, states that a city may establish or dispose of a city utility, but it is subject to the approval of the voters of the city.
  • This legislation takes the right to vote out of the hands of the citizens of Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Urbandale.
  • Approximately 15 years ago, West Des Moines asked the citizens of West Des Moines to vote on dissolving their water board. More than 90% of the voters said no. This legislation will allow them to take over the utility without it going to the voters.
  • This is clearly an effort to bypass existing law and the will of the people.

Current version of the bill doesn’t even address regionalization

  • The amended bill doesn’t create a regional water authority, which was ostensibly the reason for the original legislation.
  • Regionalization, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. This is why a coalition of 22 metro water utilities commissioned a study in 2014.
  • House File 484 would dismantle in an instant all of our accomplishments today. The metro water utilities will find a solution to our region’s future water needs by continuing the dialogue, not dismantling what has already been done.

Why water boards were set up independently

  • Water utility boards were set up independent from city councils for a reason – to protect a public health necessity from politics. Simply stated, it is an independent local water utility owned by its customers and it works, and has worked for 100 years.
  • There is absolutely no need to dismantle the water boards in the metro area that have decades of experience of delivering safe and affordable drinking water, and have long histories of financial diligence that have resulted in healthy water systems at relatively affordable rates.
  • Currently, water rates are reinvested in the water system, funding imperative capital improvements – for example, over $3 million this year in water main replacement projects for Des Moines.
  • It is no secret the City of Des Moines needs new revenue sources. If assets, responsibilities and revenue are transferred to City of Des Moines, portions of water rates could be funneled to the general fund of City of Des Moines, circumventing needed infrastructure plans.
  • Takes the management of delivering safe and affordable drinking water from professionals and puts in the hands of politicians.

Why you should stand against HF 484

  • This is a solution looking for a non-existent problem.
  • The legislature is sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
  • The proposed legislation actually impedes the regions ability to create a regional water authority.
  • House File 484 sets a dangerous precedent for all of Iowa’s 500 independent utilities boards.
  • Legislation could impede economic growth as it puts a freeze planning and construction of new water treatment facilities.
  • House File 484 is an example of politics at its worst. This legislation is clearly retaliation for the Clean Water Lawsuit, and shows no regard to the 500,000 people who depend on Des Moines Water Works for clean and affordable drinking water ever day.
  • As we saw in Flint, Michigan, when financially strained cities make decisions for purely economic reasons, the results can be catastrophic.

 

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 8 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Customer Service, Customers, Rates January 10, 2017

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Winter weather brings the threat of frozen pipes. The following tips will help prevent your pipes from freezing:

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Let cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. To safely and effectively thaw frozen water pipes, you must first diagnose where the pipe is frozen.

  • Start by checking water flow at every faucet in the house, including the bathtub faucets. This will help you determine the area of the blockage. If no water flows from the kitchen sink but the water in the bathroom sink works, then you are probably dealing with an isolated problem. Once you have figured out which faucets are affected by the frozen line you can figure out which pipe may be frozen.
  • Locate the main water shut-off valve, which could be located in the basement. It is important to shut off the water prior to thawing the pipes as a pipe may already have broken under the extreme pressure caused by the frozen line.
  • Now that the water is turned off, you have a few options to thaw the pipe. One is to use towels soaked in hot water. Wrap the frozen pipe with hot, wet towels and pour on additional hot water until the pipe has completely thawed. If the hot towel approach does not work, a hair dryer or heat gun may be the next solution. Turn on the dryer or heat gun and work up and down the length of the frozen line. Once the water starts to thaw and trickle out of the faucet, if you are sure the blockage hasn’t caused a broken pipe, you can turn the main water supply back on. Keep working with the heat source and keep the water faucet turned on until full water pressure is restored.

If no water flows from any of the faucets in the house, you are probably dealing with a frozen water service line that supplies water to the house. Turn on all faucets in the sinks and bathtub and turn off the main water supply. Follow the suggestions above but apply the heat directly to the pipe that enters the house.
Never use a heat source with an open flame, such as a blowtorch or propane heater, to thaw a frozen water line as an open flame in a home can present a serious fire hazard as well as the possibility of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, excessive heat from a blowtorch applied to a frozen pipe can cause the water inside the pipe to boil and possibly explode.

If your pipes have frozen once, chances are they will freeze again. Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of your water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without cause the pipe to break.
  • Wrap outside water pipes or water pipes located under the house or crawl spaces with an insulation material such as
    newspaper or electric heat tape taking special care to cover all elbow joints, valve bodies, tees and any other fittings.
  • If you are going on vacation during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone 8 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Infrastructure