Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

November 7, 2016

Community Partnerships

Des Moines Water Works is committed to being a vital contributor to the betterment of our community. Each year, we consider contributions and sponsorships with external organizations that advance the utility’s mission, vision and strategic initiatives.

This year, Des Moines Water Works has been pleased to provide $20,000 to local organizations with curriculum or events designed to build awareness and appreciation for the value of water as a vital resource or build awareness for source water quality and quantity. A few of these organizations include:

  • Water Rocks! – An award-winning education program through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Water Rocks! helps students, teachers and parents learn the science of water quality through music. Des Moines Water Works provided $4,500 to Water Rocks! in order to bring their exciting program into Des Moines elementary and public schools.
  • Walnut Creek Watershed Coalition – Des Moines Water Works awarded $3,000 for the annual Walnut Creek Cleanup and Watershed Festival, as well as educational kiosks throughout the watershed that provide current water quality parameters, including nitrate, phosphorus, pH, turbidity and bacteria.
  • Community Youth Concepts – Des Moines Water Works provided $3,000 to the Youth Volunteer Corps of Des Moines program in order educate youth on the importance of responsible water use. Students learned about silting, erosion, and the public responsibility for watershed management. Teens participated in hands-on service learning related to conservation efforts that will restore wetlands and benefit Iowa’s native wildlife and plants.
  • Raccoon River Watershed Association – Water recreationalists, hikers, birders, hunters and fishermen/women are just a few on a long list that enjoy the land and water along the Raccoon River. Des Moines Water Works awarded the Raccoon River Water Association $3,000 for its annual conference, “Life in the Raccoon,” that educates and promotes the many aspects of the vast and complex Raccoon River Watershed.
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa – Des Moines Water Works awarded Practical Farmers of Iowa $650 to support their annual conference that educates farmers about on-farm practices that will benefit all Iowans through improved water, soil and communities. Practical Farmers of Iowa has been showcasing Iowa farmers’ on-farm innovations that work toward building a strong, sustainable agricultural system in Iowa for over 30 years.

67In addition to monetary donations, this year, Des Moines Water Works donated three water fountain and bottle filling stations to Des Moines Public Schools. These water fountains were placed in Cowles, Goodrell, and Park Avenue elementary schools.  Providing the water fountain and bottle fillings stations promote the availability of Des Moines’ quality tap water to the many students, staff and parents at each school building, and reduce the amount of bottled beverages consumed and improperly discarded in landfills.  Each water station has a ticker display that lets users know how many plastic bottles have been eliminated by using the bottle filling feature.

Finally, you may have seen a Des Moines Water Works’ mobile water station at a recent event, festival or charity. Des Moines Water Works has provided a mobile water station to more than 20 events this year, including Downtown Farmers Market, Des Moines Arts Festival, 80/35 Music Festival, and the Iowa State Fair. These mobile water stations encourage visitors to bring their own reusable water bottles to events in order to stay hydrated and eliminate bottled beverage waste.

Des Moines Water Works thanks all its community partners working to provide education, appreciation and accessibility of safe and affordable drinking water.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Education, Environment, Value of Water May 7, 2013

Over 2,000 Iowa Students Celebrate Water at Iowa Children’s Water Festival

Iowa Children's Water FestivalOver 2,000 fifth grade students from 40 schools across the state of Iowa will celebrate water at the 17th Annual Iowa Children’s Water Festival. The Water Festival is a free, fun, instructive day filled with opportunities to educate and celebrate Iowa’s most valuable resource – water. All activities will be held on the Des Moines Area Community College-Ankeny Campus on Thursday, May 9, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m.

The Iowa Children’s Water Festival is designed as an opportunity for students to enjoy a fun-filled day while learning all aspects of water – including water quality, wise-water usage practices, safety and recreation. Students participate in hands-on learning activities, presented by a variety of water professionals, representing government agencies, environmental organizations, higher education and private businesses.

“Students participate in various activities that engages and empowers them to protect Iowa’s water resources,” said Laura Sarcone, Festival Coordinator. “Before they realize it, students are talking about aquifers, surface waters, run-off, watersheds, the water cycle and more.”

The Iowa Children’s Water Festival is sponsored by Iowa Association of Water Agencies (IAWA) and coordinated by several local and state agencies, including Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa DNR, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Iowa Rural Water Association and West Des Moines Water Works.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Education November 1, 2012

Where Does it Go?

Most people want to help the environment by doing the right thing, but they don’t always know where it should go.  Properly disposing of unwanted items is important to keep pollution off the street and out of our source water.  Here are some of the things that people often have questions about.

Plastic bottles:  Bottles with twist-off lids (e.g. milk, water, detergent, mayonnaise, medicine bottles) can be recycled in your CurbIt! cart.  Rinse them out and the lid can be left on or off.  If they contained hazardous materials, throw the bottle out if empty.

Plastic containers:  Only margarine and yogurt containers can be recycled.  Rinse out and throw lids in trash.  Sour cream and ice cream containers cannot be recycled.

Cardboard milk and juice cartons:  Rinse out and recycle in CurbIt! cart.

Phonebooks:  Recycle in CurbIt! cart.

Aerosol cans:  If held non-hazardous materials and are empty, recycle in CurbIt! cart.

Shredded paper:  Can be recycled by putting in paper sack or box (not plastic bag) and placing in CurbIt! cart.

Light bulbs:  Throw incandescent bulbs in trash and take fluorescent bulbs to Metro Hazardous Waste Drop-off in Bondurant.

Plastic bags:  Take to grocery store that has containers for recycling them – do not put them in your recycling cart.

Batteries:  Rechargeable batteries (lithium, cadmium) and car batteries should be taken to the Metro Hazardous Waste Drop-offAlkaline batteries can be throw in the garbage or taken to Batteries Plus, Interstate Battery or Home Depot.

Packing peanuts:  Take to a UPS store to be reused.

Hazardous chemicals (toxic, flammable, corrosive, reactive):  If still some left in the container, take to Metro Hazardous Waste Drop-off, if empty, throw container in trash.

Medicines:  Check out the Iowa Pharmaceutical Take Back Program at  or double-bag them and put them in the trash.

Yard waste:  Never put in the trash! Put in CompostIt! bags at the curb to be picked up.

To find out more, check out Metro Waste Authority’s  “Where It Should Go Guide” for a list of where everything from A to Z should go.

Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Education, Environment June 27, 2012

Use Water Wisely

Hot, dry weather is upon us.  Central Iowa and most parts of the State of Iowa are fortunate  to have sufficient sources of water to meet the needs of residential, business, industrial, and governmental customers during most years and the summer months. In addition, Des Moines Water Works has made significant financial investments in treatment plants, pumps, tanks, piping, and reservoir storage to meet customers’ potable water needs.

These assets can be most efficiently operated during the very hottest of summer days when our customers use water wisely.  Wise use of water is defined as being alert to and repairing leaking household appliances, taking advantage of technological advances to eliminate waste and avoiding irrigation use during the hottest part of the day.

Des Moines Water Works, in cooperation with the metropolitan area water utilities and through the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission planning group, 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 am through 5:00 pm).  This watering approach reduces the peak load on our 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.
  • Most soils in the Des Moines area can support a healthy turf, if watered no more frequently than every other day.  ISU Extension pamphlet PM 1063, found at their Web page:, says “Kentucky Bluegrass will withstand drought by becoming dormant.  If irrigation is begun in a drought, continue to water during the drought period.  Apply water infrequently, but in sufficient amounts to wet the soil to six-inch depth.”  Turf grasses in clayey, silty soils found in most parts of the metro area may require up to one inch to one-half inches of water per week.  These soils typically cannot absorb this much water during one irrigation cycle.  Adjust your sprinkler time so you are applying from one-fourth inch to one-half inch of water during each irrigation day or cycle.
  • 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 during July and the first three weeks of August.  These typically are the hottest months and weeks 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. Grass seed is also best used during this late summer, fall time period.
  • Consult your preferred garden center, lawn or landscape professional, or ISU Extension horticulturalist for tips and consultation for your specific lawn and landscape care and watering needs.  Also, visit Des Moines Water Works website for other water saving tips.

Let’s all use our precious water wisely!

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Conservation, Education, Environment, Green Initiatives June 12, 2012

Improve Water Quality with Rain Barrel and Rain Gardens

Rain barrels and rain gardens are a great way to protect our precious water resources and can save you money, too.

Rain barrels collect rainwater from rooftops via rain gutters, which is then used to water yards and gardens. 1/4” rain can yield over 200 gallons of water. Any large container with a lid will work, and you can make your own quite easily.  Many videos with step-by-step instructions for making a rain barrel are available online.

Rain gardens are planted depressions near rain gutters that allow rainwater to be absorbed, thus reducing runoff and potentially polluted storm water going down our storm sewers and into our rivers.  Rain gardens also help recharge groundwater. Native plants should be used because they don’t require fertilizer and are more tolerant to local climate conditions. Rain gardens need a little more maintenance than a lawn in the beginning, but in the long run become much easier to care for.

Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customer Service, Customers, Education, Environment, Green Initiatives, Water Quality May 9, 2012

2,000 Students Celebrate Water

It’s National Drinking Water Week!  Students will learn and celebrate Iowa’s most valuable resource – water – at the 16th Annual Iowa Children’s Water Festival.  The Iowa Children’s Water Festival, sponsored by Iowa Association of Water Agencies (IAWA), brings over 2,000 fifth grade students from 40 schools across the state of Iowa to a free, fun, educational day filled with learning experiences all related to some aspect of water.  All activities will be held on the Des Moines Area Community College-Ankeny Campus on Thursday, May 10, 2012, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m.

The Iowa Children’s Water Festival is designed as an opportunity for the youth of Iowa to enjoy a fun-filled day, learning about all the aspects of water, including water quality, wise-water usage practices, safety and recreation.  Students participate in hands-on learning activities, presented by a variety of water professionals, representing government agencies, environmental organizations, higher education and private businesses.

“We want Iowa’s youth to understand what they and others do in their daily lives, directly impacts water resources,” says Laura Sarcone, Festival Coordinator. “If we want to continue to have an adequate and safe supply of water, we must become better ecologists at an early age.”

The Festival is coordinated by several local and state agencies, including Des Moines Water Works, DMACC, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Iowa Rural Water Association and West Des Moines Water Works.

Students participate in hands-on learning activities, presented by a variety of water professionals, representing local and national government agencies, environmental organizations, higher education and private businesses.  The activities are designed to teach children about water in a learning-intensive, yet festive and fun environment.

The Iowa Children’s Water Festival is designed as an opportunity for the youth of Iowa to enjoy a fun-filled day, learning about all the aspects of water, including water quality, wise-water usage practices, uses, safety and fun.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Education, Value of Water May 6, 2012

Take Back the Tap Pledge

Although it may be convenient, choosing bottled water is not always better. Celebrate Drinking Water Week – May 6-12, 2012 – by pledging to Take Back the Tap.

Tap water is clean. In fact, Des Moines Water Works ranked number one on list of U.S. cities with the cleanest drinking water.

Tap water is inexpensive. If you drank bottled water every day for 70 years, it would cost a startling $101,000. If you drank tap water, it would cost less than $40.00.

Tap water is convenient. Increasingly, you can find cafés, shops and other venues that will refill your reusable water bottle. Locate a venue near you with a mobile app.

Des Moines Water Works encourages customers to pledge to Take Back the Tap and show your commitment to drinking quality water from Des Moines Water Works.  Stop by the DSM H2Go water station this Friday at Gray’s Lake from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and get a free reusable water bottle for signing a Take Back the Tap pledge, or submit an online pledge form by June 15, to be entered into a drawing to win a Des Moines Water Works prize pack!

Remember to choose tap water over bottled water whenever possible and when you are away from home and must choose a beverage in a non-reusable container, please recycle the bottle or can.

Also, stay informed about water quality.  Des Moines Water Works produces an annual water quality report, also known as a Consumer Confidence Report.  This report, required by law to provide water quality information, is mailed to customers every June.  A copy of this year’s report can be found at

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Education, Environment, Health April 23, 2012

How Much Water Are You Really Using?

We need water, but how much water does it take to do all of the things we need to do every day?

We use 98% of the water that comes to our houses for cleaning, so only 2% is used for drinking. The average American uses 100-150 gallons of water each day. That includes:

  • 30 gallons to take a 5-minute shower – yes, that means 60 gallons for a 10-minute shower every day!
  • 2 gallons each time we brush our teeth – Water is wasted by not turning off the water while brushing (if you turn it off you will use less than half a gallon).
  • 30 gallons to fill the bathtub a little over halfway.
  • 15 gallons to wash a load of dishes in the dishwasher – Make sure it is full before you run it!
  • 20 gallons to wash dishes by hand – Water is wasted by leaving the rinse water running the whole time; turn the rinse water off and you will use less than 10 gallons.
  • 50 gallons to wash a full load of clothes – don’t forget to reset the water level for smaller loads.
  • 5 gallons each time you flush. If you have a low-flow toilet, then it uses about 2 gallons.

Other water usage facts:

  • In the average household, faucets are turned on 70 times per day!
  • If you leave the water running while washing your car, you can easily waste over 100 gallons of water.
  • Approximately eight gallons of water is wasted per day if you have a leaky faucet – so get them fixed; they usually just need a new O-ring.
Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Education January 17, 2012

Year in Review

From starting up our third treatment plant to educating more than 27,000 children and adults, here’s a look at the top 25 accomplishments in 2011 at Des Moines Water Works.

  1. Commissioned DMWW’s third water treatment facility, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant
  2. Responded to 300 main breaks
  3. Assisted 56,000 customers in the office and visited 42,000 customers in the field
  4. Launched Parkitecture competition for the redesign of Water Works Park
  5. Repaved roads in Water Works Park
  6. Hosted several events at Water Works Park, including HyVee Fishing Derby, Big Country Bash, weddings, charity walks, Des Moines Marathon and Jolly Holiday Lights
  7. Planted approximately 70,000 plants and flowers in Water Works Park and Fleur Drive medians
  8. Found $611,000 in process efficiencies throughout the utility
  9. Reaffirmed  our strong Aa1 bond rating by Moody’s, second from highest attainable
  10. Redesigned new website with enhanced customer features, like consumption alerts
  11. Implemented electronic checks as a new customer payment option
  12. Awarded “Public Policy Champion of the Year” from Iowa Ducks Unlimited
  13. Implemented new Geographical Information System (GIS):  DMWW’s water distribution staff is now using new GIS software that allows access of important information about the distribution system while working in the field.
  14. Established Enterprise Asset Management software:  Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) at its most basic level is a work order system.  But as an asset management software, EAM is a lot more than that.  Asset management goes beyond creating work orders and includes planning and scheduling projects, tracking assets’ conditions, and forecasting asset replacement. 
  15. Ended use of gaseous chlorine at all facilities:  All water disinfection throughout the utility (three plants and six remote locations) is now being done with liquid hypochlorite.  This effort brings a safer environment for our employees and community.
  16. Reported our greenhouse gas emissions to The Climate Registry
  17. Contributed $19,286.28 to the United Way of Central Iowa through employee donations – a record year!
  18. Reduced employees’ metabolic syndrome risk factors by 18% from 2010 to 2011
  19. Awarded two safety recognition awards
  20. Received a Proclamation from Mayor Cownie during Drinking Water Week, recognizing DMWW’s contributions to the community
  21. Assisted DMACC with a new water/waste water curriculum
  22. Received a book and dedication from Ankeny first graders illustrating the importance of clean rivers
  23. Celebrated the importance of water with over 2,000 Iowa 5th grade students at the Iowa Children’s Water Festival
  24. Reached 27,800 people through classroom presentations, tours and special events conducted by the Urban Environmental Partnership.
  25. Hosted 237 meetings/social events and 53 weddings at the Des Moines Botanical Center, including 10 weddings on 11/11/11! The Botanical Center also welcomed 255 tour groups for a total of 9,560 people
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Botanical Center, Customer Service, Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Water Works Park, Education, Employees, Environment, Parks, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant December 21, 2011

Water 101: How Much Do You Know About H2O?

Take this quiz to find out how much you know about H2O!

1.  What percent of the earth’s surface is water?
a. about 50%  
b. about 75%  
c. about 97%
2.  Of all the water on earth, how much is available to use for drinking water?
a. 25%             
b. 3%              
c. 1%

3.  About how much does one gallon of water weigh? 
a. 4 lbs.  
b. 8 lbs.   
c. 10 lbs.

4.  What two rivers does Des Moines Water Works use to make drinking water?
a. Des Moines and Skunk 
b. Raccoon and Iowa 
c. Des Moines and Raccoon

5.  What is the longest a human could live without water?
a. one day  
b. one week  
c. one month

6.  About how much of the human body is water?
a. 95%   
b. 80%   
c. 65%

7.  What uses the most water in households each day?
a. laundry  
b. showers  
c. flushing the toilet

8.  What percent of water in homes is used for drinking purposes?
a. 2%   
b. 10%   
c. 20% 

9.  What is the longest river in the world?
a. Mississippi
b. Amazon  
c. Nile

10.  How thick does ice have to be to hold an average-sized human?
a. 2”   
b. 4”   
c. 6”

11.  About how many gallons of water will run down the drain if you leave a faucet on for one minute?
a. 5   
b. 3   
c. 8 

12.  How many gallons of water does the average American use for a five-minute shower? 
a. 20   
b. 30   
c. 40

13.   How much water does it take to make a can of pop? 
a. 1 gallon  
b. 5 gallons  
c. 10 gallons  

14.   What makes hard water “hard?”
a.  Low temperatures 
b. minerals 
c. heat and pressure 

15.  The gradual wearing away of soil by water is called __________.
a. combustion  
b. precipitation  
c. erosion

1. b
2. c
3. b
4. c
5. b
6. c
7. c
8. a
9. c
10. b
11. a
12. b
13. c
14. b
15. c

Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Education