Archive for the ‘Flooding’ Category

July 10, 2013

Remembering the Flood of 1993

flood of 1993 aerial view 2Twenty years ago – at 3:02 a.m. on July 11, 1993 – Des Moines Water Works shut down operations after the water treatment plant and general office were inundated with flood water.

It all began July 8, when 8-10 inches of rain fell in the upper Raccoon River watershed.  On July 9, the levee was closed.  At 1:00 a.m. on July 11, water started coming over the levee.  The Raccoon River crested at the historic level of 26.75 feet, 1.75 feet higher than the levee.

The dewatering process began along with restoration of the high voltage and high service pumps, chemical feeds, and refilling the distribution system.  The National Guard air-lifted equipment in and out of the treatment plant.  Staff worked round-the-clock.  The general office was re-located.  Seven days later, DMWW began pumping potable water from the Fleur Drive plant.  Customers could use the water for sanitary use on Day 12, and the water was safe to drink on Day 19.

The levee around the water treatment plant was heightened by 6 feet.  Permanent flood gates have been installed.  A second treatment plant, the L.D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir, began operation in 2000.  A third treatment plant, the Saylorville Water Treatment Plant, went online in 2011.

DMWW was forever changed by the Flood of 1993.  The product we produce daily became even more important, and our commitment to quality and service became even stronger.  The dedicated employees, tireless volunteers, and the utility’s commitment to the community allowed us to quickly recover, restore service and rebuild to bring the community safe, reliable, high quality water now and in the future.

Posted by: Pat Ripley No Comments
Labels: , Posted in Flooding, History, Uncategorized September 6, 2012

The Old White Barn in Water Works Park

A recognizable landmark in Water Works Park is the weathered white barn just northwest of the general office building. The old barn is probably most well-known for serving as a rustic backdrop for numerous photo shoots over the years.

The barn was built around 1900 to shelter the horses that were owned by the water utility for farming operations. In those days, crops of wheat, alfalfa, corn, timothy, and clover were grown on the water supply grounds.  In 1924, farming operations were discontinued on the grounds, so most of the horses and farm equipment were sold, retaining only those necessary for maintenance of the grounds.

Most recently, Water Works Park maintenance equipment has been stored in the barn and it is now the home to a large number of bats and mice.

Questions have been received from the public about the 100+-year old barn which has had its share of flood damage.  Originally, plans had been to renovate it, but several years ago it was discovered that the barn has suffered significant termite damage that precludes putting any money into it.  It is hoped that approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can be received to relocate a section of the earthen levee near the barn and grounds shop building making room for new Water Works Park maintenance facilities on the dry side of the levee, and the current barn and shop building would be dismantled, with as much of the material salvaged as possible.

Posted by: Pat Ripley No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Flooding, History, Parks July 30, 2012

New Raccoon River Watershed Alliance

Des Moines Water Works through the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission Assisting Dallas County Board of Supervisors in Formation of a Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed Alliance

The State of Iowa has authorized local governments to address flooding and management of water and soil resources in watersheds across the state through the formation of local alliances. An alliance is formed through a 28E agreement (contractual agreement between governmental organizations) with representatives appointed by city, county and soil and watershed conservation districts (SWCD) within the watershed. An advisory body with landowners and other groups will also be part of the process.  The watershed alliance has no taxing authority and no impact on the authority of a city, county, or SWCD to conduct its business. Instead, the alliance will educate, coordinate and leverage resources for the betterment of the watershed.

The Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed Alliance is working within the following vision and mission statements:

Vision: A regional alliance with resources to lead, and support improvements in soil protection, flood management and water quality.

Mission: To facilitate regional collaboration that will identify strategies and goals to educate the public, reduce the risk of flood events, and leverage resources for improved soil and water quality protection.

As outlined by legislators in Iowa Code the alliance can:

  • Educate residents
  • Identify sources of funding to institutionalize the Watershed Management Alliance
  • Assess flood risks
  • Assess options for cutting flood risk
  • Monitor state & federal flood risk planning activities
  • Assess water quality
  • Leverage funding of multiple partners
  • Allocate state and federal moneys available for water quality and flood risk reduction programs and implement best management practices
  • Implement the Raccoon River Master Plan
  • Enter into contracts and agreements

Source: Iowa Code Chapter 466B, Subchapter III

The Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed Management Alliance has just recently been selected to partner with the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) on a multi-year project to monitor, plan, and implement watershed projects aimed at improving soil and water resources and the adverse impacts of flooding. Phase I will focus on the Middle Raccoon River watershed. The IFC formally announced the partnership June 22, 2012, in Redfield, IA.

The landscape of the Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed is located in the best of rural Iowa, where community is tied to the tradition of farming and outdoor recreation. The benefits gained from the partnerships in the Middle-South Raccoon River watershed is a place where agriculture, communities, recreation, and Iowans thrive and prosper.

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , Posted in Environment, Flooding, Source Water, Water Quality April 26, 2012

Prepare Yourself for Wild Weather

Reprinted with permission by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Iowa Newspaper Foundation

Iowa is no stranger to wild weather.  Prepare yourself with this helpful hints and terminology.

THUNDERSTORMS
All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightening which is one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States.

LIGHTENING
Remember the 30/30 Lightening Safety Rule: go indoors if, after seeing lightening, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thundering.  Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.  If you cannot get indoors, here are tips for staying safe outside:

  • In an open area:  Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Watch out for flash flooding.
  • On open water:  Get to land and find shelter immediately.
  • Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightening is about to strike):  Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact to the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.

FLOODS
Flooding happens during heavy rains, when rivers overflow, snow melts too fast or levees break.  This is the most common natural weather event. Here are few tips:

  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • If you’re in a car and floodwaters rise around it, get out of the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.

TORNADOES
Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately.

  • If you are at home, go to your pre-designated shelter area that you and your family determined, most likely the basement. If you do not have a basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Do not open your windows.
  • If you are in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or storm shelter.
  • If you are outside with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch and cover your head with your hands. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle.

TERMS TO KNOW

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch:  Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to happen. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or TV for information.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning:  Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate danger to those in the path of the storm is likely and they should seek shelter.
  • Flood Watch or Flashflood Watch:  Flooding may happen soon. Stay tuned to the radio or TV news for more information.
  • Flood Warning:  You may be asked to leave the area. A flood may be happening or will be very soon.
  • Flashflood Warning:  A flashflood is happening. Get to high ground right away.

Sources: American Red Cross, www.ready.gov  

 

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Environment, Flooding, Health January 16, 2012

DMWW Talk to Legislators About Water

Water Day at the Iowa State Capitol is January 17, 2012, and Des Moines Water Works will be there on behalf of the approximately 500,000 people in DMWW’s service area.

Every Year, DMWW sees Water Day as an opportunity to talk with legislators from Central Iowa and across the state about improving and protecting water resources in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers, the sources of water for DMWW drinking water. Reducing nutrients, bacteria, and algae blooms in our source waters helps protect public health and contain the cost of treating drinking water for our customers.

This is also an opportunity to discuss protecting the utility’s $352 million of infrastructure from flood events – infrastructure owned by the citizens of Des Moines. In 1993, the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant was flooded and DMWW was not able to provide drinking water to customers for approximately 10-14 days. Since 2008, more than 65-feet of river bank have been lost at the L.D. McMullen Treatment Plant well field site, putting several wells at risk for damage. More frequent (and intense) rainfall events and expeditious movement of water off the landscape through tiling, have exacerbated flooding. The connectivity of surface water, ground water and soils exist on all levels and need to be managed as a system. The power of moving water, whether a raindrop or a torrent of flood water, can be better managed in Iowa.

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , Posted in Customers, Environment, Flooding, Infrastructure, Public Policy, Water Quality October 4, 2010

Improvements Since ’93 Des Moines Floods

The Raccoon River was above flood stage in Water Works Park seven times in 2010.  Even though record high flood levels were not reached, all that water creates a lot of work and makes us wonder what the future will bring.

In 1993 the levee surrounding Water Works’ Fleur Drive Treatment Plant was overtopped by flood waters, leaving the Des Moines without water for more than a week.  Since then a number of projects have been completed to help ensure this does not happen again.

Most importantly, the levee surrounding the Fleur Drive Plant has been raised by six feet to a level four feet above the record 1993 water level.  A flood gate has also been added which can be closed quickly as compared to the earthen plug that was used to close the levee in the past.  These improvements have not seen water as high as 1993 but they were tested during the flooding in 2008 when more than 8 feet of water rose against the 14-foot tall flood gates.  The levee and flood gates performed well and treatment plant facilities were protected.

In addition to levee and flood gate improvements the Water Works has added additional sources of supply since 1993.  In 2000 the LD McMullen Water Treatment Facility went into service near Maffitt Reservoir with the ability to produce up 25 million gallons of water per day.  Four aquifer storage and recovery wells have also been constructed around the metro with a combined capacity of over 10 million gallons per day.  Later this year the new Saylorville Water Treatment Plant will go on line with the capacity to supply up to an additional 10 million gallons per day to the metro area.  Taken together these facilities provide valuable backup to the primary Fleur Drive Water Treatment Plant.

All of these changes have helped protect the water supply but Water Works Park is still vulnerable to flooding.  Just this year the high water has caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage to park roads, plantings, and other park facilities.  Each time the water level goes above flood stage the cleanup effort in the park requires hundreds of man hours to complete.  In addition high water resulted in the cancellation or relocation of numerous events scheduled on park grounds including concerts, cultural festivals, and family gatherings.

Posted by: Ted Corrigan No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Environment, Flooding