Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

April 29, 2019

2019 Capital Improvements

Water utilities are an infrastructure intensive industry. Des Moines Water Works maintains over 10,000 fire hydrants and approximately 1,400 miles of buried water mains which have 9,800 valves. Des Moines Water Works has over 80,000 water meters and automated reading devices serving our customers. Each of Des Moines Water Works’ three water treatment plants and more than 50 remote sites (i.e. ground or elevated water storage facilities, pump and booster stations) have multiple mechanical, electrical, and controls systems that require a high degree of maintenance to ensure these systems work at peak efficiency to allow us to treat and distribute the highest quality water at the least possible cost.

Des Moines Water Works will be investing $1.4 million in building and facility maintenance, $1.9 million in new pumping and storage facilities, $2.9 in equipment updates, $3.5 million in treatment plant improvements, and $9.6 million in water main replacement and distribution system improvements as the major areas of focus for 2019.

As the largest 2019 capital investment, water main replacement 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 prioritizes water main projects by: replacement of water mains that have a history of breaks; modeling the likelihood of future breaks; relocation to accommodate city, county, or state construction projects; and improvement of fire flow and meeting the needs of customers.

The Board of Water Works Trustees has recognized the utility can most cost effectively maintain our infrastructure assets by generating the necessary capital through water rate revenue. This allows the utility to pay for the maintenance and replacements on a “pay as you go” basis. The 2019 utility budget included an upcoming rate increase (effective April 1) to allow an operating budget growth of 6.2%, and produce an estimated $19.3 million for new capital improvement projects after existing debt service obligations are met.

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 2019.

Des Moines Water Works will contact customers directly in the neighborhoods throughout Des Moines and unincorporated Polk County that have been scheduled for water main replacement in 2019. Additional customer communications 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 3rd Street from NE 54th Avenue to NE 49th Place
· NE 5th Street from NE 51st Place to NE 54th Avenue

Polk County Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 2
· NW 51st Place from NW 2nd Avenue to NW 6th Drive
· NW 49th Place from NW 2nd Avenue to NW 6th Drive

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT
· Park Avenue from SW 33rd Street to SW 37th Street
· 48th Street private main conversion to public main

City of Des Moines Road Reconstruction with Des Moines Water Main Replacement
· Fleur Drive Reconstruction from Bell Avenue to Watrous Phase 1-North Bound
· 2019 Roadway Reconstruction:
– SE 5th Street from Park Avenue to E. Broad Street
– South Union Street from E. Kirkwood Avenue to Park Avenue

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Infrastructure, Rates January 18, 2019

Fire Hydrant Access

Des Moines Water Works collaborates with city fire departments to properly maintain nearly 10,000 fire hydrants in the Des Moines Water Works distribution system. You can help your 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:

  • During winter months, shovel snow away from fire hydrants.
  • Do not paint fire hydrants – the color of the fire hydrant is indicative of water flow available for fire protection.
  • Keep cars, bikes, toys and other objects away from fire hydrants at all times.
  • Mow and trim grass or weeds around fire hydrants near your property.
  • Do not plant flowers or shrubs around fire hydrants.

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.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Infrastructure January 17, 2019

DMWW Calls on (Old and New) Friends for Telemetry Assistance

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) in some situations uses secured radio telemetry to send information from remote sites to the Control Center. This information is used to monitor various attributes of remote sites so staff can be alerted to any problems and ensure systems are running optimally.

In recent months, DMWW experienced periodic and sometimes total failure of the radio system that communicates to several facilities and water tower sites.

DMWW employees worked diligently for some time to try to remedy the issue. When no solution could be found, staff reached out to radio sales representatives and technical resources to assist with the problem. In addition, Des Moines Police (DMPD) radio department, Polk County Emergency Management, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were also contacted to help find the interference.

That’s when a relatively unknown volunteer group, Polk County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, was brought in for assistance.

The mission of Polk County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is to provide emergency radio communications for Polk County and surrounding communities when officially activated by an authorized agency. ARES is comprised of 76 volunteers and is governed by the FCC Code of Federal Regulations. An FCC requirement for maintaining radio spectrum for amateur radio is providing service to the public.

“The primary focus of our communications efforts are surrounding emergency response – specifically to augment public service communications capabilities for the various jurisdictions within Polk County,” said Scott Kirstein, Emergency Coordinator, Polk County ARES. “Fortunately, Polk County is pretty well equipped and has considerable resources to utilize for most emergencies, so we are not needed very often for the real thing; however, we do provide routine support for community events, like the Des Moines Marathon, Living History Farms Race, Fight for Air Climb, to name a few.”

A total of eight operators from Polk County ARES assembled to track down the signal interference plaguing DMWW over the course of about three weeks. DMWW, DMPD radio department, and the FCC continued to assist during the workday, while the amateur volunteers worked the late shift.

A Polk County ARES volunteer working to isolate the source of the signal in Downtown Des Moines.

After a process of elimination (finding out for sure what was not causing the interference, to determine where it could be), the volunteer group
pinpointed the signal to defunct equipment on top of a downtown Des Moines building that was causing the unintentional interference. The team contacted the owner of the license associated with the equipment and got permission to disable it, and DMWW confirmed the signal interference was gone.

Collectively, the Polk County ARES volunteer team spent approximately 70 hours to assist DMWW.

“We are just a handful of folks who are willing to help out if we can. We heard of a need, thought maybe we could help, and caught a couple of breaks to solve a problem,” said Scott Kirstein.

After the experience, DMWW has a more robust radio system with encryption and a stronger relationship with several entities who can assist if a similar problem happens in the future.

Thank you to DMPD, Polk County, FCC, and the volunteer amateur radio group in locating the signal interference and working to find solutions for DMWW’s communications systems, which are a vital element in our work to deliver safe drinking water to 500,000 central Iowa customers.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Customer Service, Infrastructure August 1, 2018

2018 Citizen Water Academy

Though Des Moines Water Works has successfully supplied safe, abundant and affordable drinking water to central Iowans for almost 100 years, the associated planning, production, distribution, monitoring and challenges presented by contaminated source water are not common knowledge among most citizens.  With water quality on the minds of Central Iowans, Des Moines Water Works is hosting it’s second annual Citizen Water Academy of Central Iowa in an effort to engage the public in more detail about the evolution of drinking water and understand plans for the future that meet the growing needs of our community. Last year, DMWW hosted 24 participants in the inaugural Citizen Water Academy.

The Citizen Water Academy of Central Iowa is designed to help current and emerging leaders in our community learn and appreciate our most important natural resource; the water we depend on for life.  Attendees will receive 16 hours of instruction, tour multiple treatment plants operated by Des Moines Water Works, listen to presentations from soil and water professionals, and interact with our expert Des Moines Water Works staff over the four sessions of this program.  It is our hope that participants not only come away from the Water Academy with a better understanding of their local water utility, but are also equipped to help lead the debate on important water issues now and in the future.

What to Expect

All sessions are held at Des Moines Water Works general office.

Session 1: Wednesday, October 10, 1:00-5:00 pm

Theme: Imagine a Day Without Water

Session 2: Thursday, October 25, 1:00-5:30 pm

Theme: What is the value of clean water?

Session 3: Thursday, November 1, 1:00-5:00 pm

Theme: Working to protect source water

Session 4 and Graduation: Wednesday, November 7, 1:00-5:00 pm

Theme: Putting knowledge into practice

There is no tuition, fee, or charge to apply to attend the Citizen Water Academy.  For more information on the Citizen Water Academy and to apply to be a part of the 2018 class.  For more information and to apply, visit www.citizenwateracademy.com

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service 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 1 Comment
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