Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

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 January 5, 2017

Turn Talk into Action in the Raccoon River Watershed

On Monday, January 9, the opening gavel will fall, and Iowa’s 2017 state legislative session will begin. Legislators will continue to grapple with the complex and costly issues associated with improving Iowa’s water quality. Des Moines Water Works is committed to being part of the solution and has unveiled its top legislative priorities aimed at restoring and protecting source water quality in the Raccoon River Watershed. Proposed solutions include:

  • Allocate adequate, sustained funding for a statewide water quality plan that holds the largest contributors accountable, leverages public-private partnerships and doesn’t divert funding from other vital state services.
  • Implement a statewide, watershed-based approach, rather than a county-by-county approach, to treating Iowa water quality. Set a timeline for pollution reductions; target and prioritize the most urgent areas; fund and implement water quality monitoring at the sub-watershed level to assess progress; and guarantee public access to water quality data. Transparency and accountability help ensure that limited public resources are used wisely and effectively.
  • Prioritize the entire Raccoon River Watershed for immediate action. Allocate funding to implement a long-term plan that includes full-time,
    permanent coordinators; infrastructure; targeted practices in the
    watershed; measures of progress; and water quality monitoring. Watershed Management Authorities are appropriate mechanisms for implementing the Raccoon River plan.
  • Protect public health by updating agricultural tile drainage laws; i.e. require consideration of environmental and health impacts; ensure edge-of-field mitigation; and implement water quality monitoring at outlets to public waterways.

Des Moines Water Works is committed to protecting the health of 500,000 central Iowans by providing safe, abundant and affordable drinking water and will continue to pursue collaborative efforts, legal remedies, and legislative solutions that ensure cleaner source water for our customers. The year 2017 is said to be the “year of water,” and Des Moines Water Works looks forward to helping craft a plan that results in meaningful improvement in Iowa waterways.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 1 Comment
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Environment, Source Water, Water Quality 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 12, 2015

Benefits from Water Works Park’s Urban Forest

Water Works ParkAlthough many of us know Water Works Park as a natural playground for people and animals, the Park’s primary mission is to serve as the first water source for Des Moines Water Works in meeting the drinking water needs of 500,000 central Iowans. To do that, Des Moines Water Works’ forefathers had the insight to acquire land upstream of the Raccoon River to protect its water source. Today, Des Moines Water Works staff maintains a large urban forest that makes up the 1,500 acres of Water Works Park.

Urban forests play an important role in supporting and improving the ecology in urban areas. A tree’s shade and beauty contributes to the community’s quality of life and softens the often hard appearance of streetscapes and urban landscapes. Public trees, when properly maintained, provide economic, environmental, and social benefits, including temperature moderation, reduction of air pollutants, energy conservation, and increased property values.

A recently completed inventory of the urban forest in Water Works Park is the first phase of a multi-year effort led by Tree Des Moines to assess the health of trees along capital city streets and parklands.

The recent assessment, conducted by Davey Resource Group, included trees, stumps and planting sites within the mowed and manicured areas of Water Works Park. Collectively, the trees included in the assessment have an appraised value of $6,227,597, and provide environmental benefits valued at nearly $370,000 a year.

“The results of the Water Works inventory show just how much value trees add to our city and neighborhoods,” said CJ Stephens, president of Tree Des Moines, a volunteer-driven nonprofit dedicated to protecting and expanding the urban forest. “This proves that every dollar we invest in our urban forest is money that comes back to us in so many critically important ways, both economic and environmental.”

The inventory outcomes are important, and implementation of the maintenance recommendations will enhance public safety and the benefits trees provide to the community.

The recently completed tree inventory is a key-planning tool that will help Des Moines Water Works establish a data-driven program for tree care, and aid in more accurately determining budget, staff, and equipment needs.

The partnership with Tree Des Moines also comes at a pivotal time for Water Works Park.

“Through Trees Des Moines’ leadership, Davey Resources performed a professionally assessed and digitized collection of data involving our Parks’ publically enjoyed trees,” Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager, said. “This asset inventory for a cornerstone of the Water Works Park is particularly timely given our interest in better managing all aspects of Water Works Park, and working with the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation in realizing the Master Plan to drive Water Works Parks’ future improvements.”

Tree inventories are about more than simply counting trees. As Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie points out.

“The City of Des Moines, along with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and environmental experts at Iowa State University, agree that a tree inventory is essential in moving forward with plan to maximize Des Moines’ tree resources through proper management,” said Cownie.

The assessments provide detailed information about species, health, and maintenance needs, among other information. A tree inventory is also needed to help Des Moines combat current threats to forestry health such as emerald ash borer, oak wilt and bur oak blight. Over the next few years, these threats are expected to significantly reduce Des Moines’ tree canopy, which carries implications for quality of life in the city’s neighborhoods.

“The Water Works Park inventory proves it is worthwhile to keep pushing ahead with plans to inventory city-owned trees in Des Moines,” Stephens said. “Trees are vital green infrastructure, and knowing more about what we have in Des Moines will help us do a much better job of managing the resources well into the future.”

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Environment, Green Initiatives, Parks 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 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 November 6, 2013

Farming Best Practices

cover cropDid you know that Des Moines Water Works has owned about 100 acres of farm land at Maffitt Reservoir Park since 1942? In keeping with DMWW’s mission, and knowing that what we do on the land impacts the quality of our source water, we seek to adopt agricultural practices that provide protection to the water and soil resources under our ownership.

This fall, a cover crop was planted on DMWW’s Maffitt farm land. The cover crop was applied using a helicopter that planted seed in a standing soybean field. A mixture of rye (cool season grass/grain non-legumes) and hairy vetch (cool season annual legume) were planted.

Cover crops have been around for centuries, but are gaining in popularity because of their ability to control erosion, improve soil water moisture content, and the natural filtration of water through the soil profile. When the cover crop decays, it provides organic matter to produce beneficial soil organisms for soil fertility and soil health. Healthy soils improve the infiltration of water, leading to less flooding as well as reduced soil erosion and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) leaching. According to an Ohio State University Extension report, Using Cover Crops to Improve Soil and Water Quality (2009), a pound of soil organic matter has the ability to absorb 18–20 pounds of water, reduces nutrient and pesticide runoff by 50% or more, decreases soil erosion by 90%, reduces sediment loading by 75%, and reduces pathogen loading by 60%.

By using cover crops and reducing reliance on agrichemicals for crop production, we help protect the health of family and friends and reduce water quality concerns arising from non-point pollution attributed to farming practices. At a time when the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds suffer from serious degradation due to nutrient contamination, this shift in agricultural systems can play a significant and positive role in revitalizing Iowa’s river systems. For more information about cover crops, visit Practical Farmers of Iowa at http://www.practicalfarmers.org/programs/Field-Crops_cover.php or Midwest Cover Crops Council at http://www.mccc.msu.edu/.

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Environment, Maffitt Reservoir, Source Water, Water Quality August 14, 2013

Healthy & Happy Outdoors at the Iowa State Fair

3Des Moines Water Works is a supporter of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Healthy & Happy Outdoors (H2O) program and was present when Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds kicked off the H2O program at the Iowa State Fair. The H2O program helps you get connected to Iowa outdoor destinations, including Water Works Park, and recreational activities for a healthier life! Helping Iowans improve physical and mental health through outdoor recreation is an important goal for DMWW.  Above photo:  IDNR Deputy Director Bruce Trautman, Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds

Here’s how the H2O program works: After you register on H2O website, you can record your outdoor activities in Iowa parks and recreational areas. Each recorded activity counts as an entry into a prize drawing for outdoor gear– from bikes to binoculars to a vacation getaway. The more outdoor activities you register, the more chances you have to win. Log in today to get started! Participants who log activities between now and August 31, 2013 are eligible to win an Iowa State Park camping coupon book.

1Des Moines Water Works and Iowa DNR is providing free water at the Iowa State Fair in the Department of Natural Resources building. Bring your reusable water bottle to the Fair and fill up!

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Des Moines Water Works Park, Environment, Health, Parks July 9, 2013

Sign up for E-Statements and Receive $5.00 Rebate

credit card onlineIf you’re not already signed up for E-statements, now is the time to do so. Customers signing up for E-statements July 1 through December 31, 2013, will receive a one-time, $5.00 rebate on their water bill.  To sign up for E-statements, visit Des Moines Water Works to set up an online account.  Once logged into your account, simply select Go Paperless from the top green navigation bar.

Currently, only 5% of Des Moines Water Works’ customers receive Estatements. It costs $0.84 to print and mail just one paper statement, and DMWW’s annual expenses for printing and mailing statements is $866,000. Des Moines Water Works saves $43,000 a year with current E-statement customers, but that savings could increase significantly if more customers chose to receive e-statements.

There are many advantages to choosing to receive E-statements. They are convenient, environmentally friendly, help prevent identity theft and they help reduce costs, which in turn, helps keep water rates low.

For more information on E-statements, visit Des Moines Water Works or contact a Customer Service Representative at (515) 283-8700.

Posted by: Amy Kahler 5 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Environment, Green Initiatives, Rates May 2, 2013

Get Healthy and Happy Outdoors Today!

Healthy&HappyOutdoorsIf you’re looking for a way to get healthier, a new program from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in partnership with Des Moines Water Works and several Iowa organizations, provides you resources and recognition for spending more time outdoors.

The Healthy & Happy Outdoors initiative, or H2O, connects you to Iowa’s natural resources and helps you enjoy an active lifestyle.

It’s easy to get started:

  1. Register online at www.iowadnr.gov/h2o.
  2. Get outside. Log your outdoor recreation activities on the H2O website.
  3. Need some recommendations? Find more than 1,600 recreation locations across the state in an interactive map (including Water Works Park and Maffitt Reservoir Park) along with suggestions for outdoor opportunities you might enjoy.
  4. Win prizes! Each activity you log counts as an entry for regular drawings of outdoor-themed prizes, with a first-year celebration of H2O at the Iowa State Fair in August 2013.

The DNR and the program’s partners aim to have 1,000 participants sign up for H2O in the first year, and 50,000 participants by 2016. Program partners include the Healthiest State Initiative, Des Moines Water Works, Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department of Transportation, and Iowa Tourism Office.

“Our goal is to help Iowans increase mental and physical health through outdoor recreation in Iowa’s natural spaces,” said Chuck Gipp, DNR Director.

The H2O website will continually grow with tips, healthy resources, additional activities and more. You can also help improve the map – if you visit a recreation area not shown on the map, just include it in your activity log and the H2O team will add it.

Des Moines Water Works is pleased to be a part of this exciting initiative. Get healthy and happy outdoors today!

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customers, Environment, Health, Parks