Archive for the ‘Green Initiatives’ 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

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Conservation, Employees, Environment, Green Initiatives 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 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 January 7, 2013

Environmental Impact Award

Impact Awards-smallThe Center on Sustainable Communities, Des Moines Water Works, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Metro Waste Authority and MidAmerican Energy will honor local organizations and leaders for their sustainability efforts in the Greater Des Moines area. Environmental Impact Award applications will be accepted through Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. To commemorate Earth Month, winners will be announced April 4.

Now in its third year, the Environmental Impact Awards were established to recognize organizations that exemplify environmentally sustainable practices. Awards will be given to businesses (large and small), civic organizations (governmental and non-governmental), and for the built environment (residential and commercial construction). Special honors will be given to an award winner for with the best water management practices and an award winner for the best energy efficiency practices. The award applications are available at All interested parties are encouraged to apply.

Last year’s award winners were Sun Prairie Apartments, City of West Des Moines for the Historic City Hall Renovation in Valley Junction, Strategic America, Kum & Go, Des Moines Bicycle Collective and Pat Boddy. Their many sustainability initiatives are highlighted at

Winners will be recognized at the Environmental Impact Awards luncheon from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, at the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge in West Des Moines. For more information, contact the Greater Des Moines Partnership at (515) 286-4950.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Environment, Green Initiatives January 7, 2013

Seeking Applications for Environmental Impact Awards

The Greater Des Moines Partnership, Center 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, 2013 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

Last year’s award winners were DART Central Station, Oakridge Neighborhood Teen Center, The ReWall Company, Unity Point Health – Des Moines, Iowa Legal Aid, and City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation.  Their many sustainability initiatives are highlighted at

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

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Environment, Green Initiatives August 21, 2012

Successful Gardening in a Drought

As drought conditions continue, it is essential to monitor your trees, shrubs and plants to avoid losing them for good.  As a general rule, most plants require a minimum of one inch of rain a week to remain healthy.  This can be obtained by either rainfall or watering.  Watering should be done in the early morning or early evening to avoid the hottest part of the day and evaporation.  Adhering to Des Moines Water Works stage 1 water conservation guidelines, it is also requested that any watering be done every other day.

Trees, shrubs, and perennials should be watched for either curling leaves or flagging (yellowing of the leaves).  A periodic, heavy watering is more beneficial than a light, daily spraying on these plants.  A bucket of water with small holes in the bottom allows water to slowly release into the soil giving a more uniform watering. Using a two-inch thick layer of mulch around these plants will also help retain moisture levels in the soil and reduce water evaporation. Trees that have been in the ground for less than five years should have priority over older trees.

Vegetable, annual and container gardening dry out much faster than other plants and watering should be done in the morning or late evening. Vegetable crops will likely be smaller than normal due to the heat. They tend to use the energy from water and sunshine just to flower and stay alive and don’t have enough extra energy to produce the crop.

Most brown grass is considered dormant, not dead. Applying a fertilizer would not be recommended in these conditions. Fall aeration and over-seeding would be better money spent. Under DMWW stage 1 water conservation guidelines, it is requested that residents and businesses in the Des Moines metro area cease or reduce lawn irrigation.  If you must irrigate (new sod), do so early morning or late evening, and every other day.

Posted by: Todd Monson No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customers, Des Moines Botanical Center, Green Initiatives August 16, 2012

Brown is the New Green

Recent requests from Des Moines Water Works and metro suburbs asking residential and business customers to eliminate or reduce turf irrigation has presented the opportunity for customers to be “green” by allowing their grass to go brown.

Many environmentally conscious residential and commercial customers have made significant reductions in water use. For example, Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines has reduced its outdoor water usage by 50 percent.

“When residents are asked to help conserve water, we know Mercy needs to do its part,” said Roy Young, manager of Mercy Properties and Plant Operations. “Typically our lawn irrigation systems run at night for 20 minutes on the Mercy Central Campus, Mercy College and Mercy Park Apartments. We’ve cut that to 10 minutes, and in some cases less. In a drought situation every bit of conservation helps.”

Another environmentally conscious customer, Quick Trip Corporation, has completely shut off irrigation at 22 Des Moines area locations.

It makes good sense to be a wise water user all year long, not just in times of drought.  Residential and business customers can do their part by not over-irrigating and maintaining properly working irrigation systems.  Des Moines Water Works and metro area suburbs appreciate customers pulling together and making small sacrifices, primarily in reduced irrigation, to help ensure Des Moines Water Works can continue to deliver a quality and reliable water supply.

Posted by: John Lins No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customer Service, Customers, Green Initiatives July 18, 2012

Fill’er up! DSM H2GO Mobile Water Filling Stations

Be on the lookout for mobile water filling stations, operated by Des Moines Water Works at upcoming community events. Enjoy quality Des Moines water on the go. Each DSM H2GO station features six water spigots to fill your reusable water bottle, one drinking fountain and a dog bowl for your thirsty pets!

Des Moines Water Works tap water doesn’t just taste great:

It’s clean:  Des Moines Water Works ranked number one on list of U.S. cities with the cleanest drinking water.

It’s healthy:  Water contains zero calories, zero sugar and zero fat. A typical 12-ounce can of soda contains about 150 calories and the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. Sports drinks, which are marketed as healthy alternatives, have as many calories as sugary beverages and usually contain high levels of sodium.

It’s affordable:  Des Moines Water Works tap water is a great deal. At approximately one penny per gallon, it is about 1,000 times less expensive than bottled water.

It’s green:  Plastic water bottles produced for the U.S. use 1.5 million barrels of oil a year – enough to power 250,000 homes or 1000,000 cars all year. And it takes more than 3 liters of water to produce each liter of water.

It’s convenient:  Quality water is available right from the tap. DSM H2GO mobile water stations will be available at upcoming community events, making staying hydrated easy and affordable. Look for the DSM H2GO station at Des Moines’ Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday, July 21.  Free water bottles will be given out while supplies last.

Live healthy. Be green. Drink tap!

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customer Service, Customers, Environment, Green Initiatives, Health 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