Archive for the ‘Rates’ Category

June 29, 2017

Board of Water Works Trustees Receive and File $178 Million Five Year Capital Improvement Plan

The Board of Water Works Trustees received and filed staff’s recommended five year capital improvement plan at their regularly scheduled board meeting on June 27.  While the Board did not take immediate action on specific projects within the capital improvement plan, it does lay the groundwork and set a course for investments needed to meet federal drinking water standards, improve or expand water infrastructure, and enhance technology through 2021.  In the fall of 2017, the Board of Water Works Trustees will approve one year operating and capital budgets for calendar year 2018.

“The five year Capital Improvement Plan is the most aggressive view of the capital improvements Des Moines Water Works may need over the next five years,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “The plan includes improvements for source, treatment, storage, pumping, and transmission, for the benefit of the central Iowa region.”

The capital improvement plan is intentionally comprehensive, with over $178 million in investments identified.  It establishes a path of anticipated needs based on a defined set of assumptions, such as population growth and water quality.  The plan will change as assumptions are modified based on actual experience, such as regulatory requirements, demand growth, and water quality vulnerabilities.

Concurrently, staff is developing and finalizing, with significant input from suburban customers through the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission’s Technical Advisory Committee, a long range plan through 2040.  The Long Range Plan will be a framework for water needs in the Des Moines metro area for the next 20 years.  This five year plan is a step toward the long range plan.

The five year plan includes important source, treatment, storage and transmission projects identified in the 2040 long range plan like a shallow alluvial wellfield along the Des Moines River which will provide natural denitrification of source water, expansion of the nitrate removal facility, two new aquifer storage and recovery wells, additional transmission mains to suburban customers, increased water main replacements within Des Moines and unincorporated Polk County, and the design of an expansion at Saylorville Water Treatment Plant.

Des Moines Water Works is committed to managing and optimizing available financial resources.  Financing may involve a combination of bonding, grants, water rates, purchased capacity, and State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans.  Many components of the plan are “modular,” and may be completed in smaller increments over time to allow for more flexibility in financing and to ensure investments meet changing priorities.

“The five year capital improvement plan demonstrates today’s prioritization of infrastructure plans, under constant review. Water system infrastructure improvements are critical to the health and success of our community.  Des Moines Water Works has been providing safe, affordable and abundant drinking water to Central Iowa since 1919 and is committed to meeting the region’s needs for the next 100 years,” said Stowe.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Customers, Infrastructure, Rates, Water Quality March 8, 2017

Why You Should Stand Against HF 484


House File 484
is a bill that would disband the governing boards of the Des Moines, Urbandale, and West Des Moines water works. If signed into law, these three independent utilities would be forced to turn over management and their assets to the city councils in each city.

This is a diversion

  • There is no drinking water quality crisis in the Des Moines metro area that would necessitate the state legislature stepping in.
  • The real problem is source water quality in the state. The Legislature should be focused on water quality – not local water production.
  • Metro utilities have done an outstanding job for decades of planning and implementing the supply, treatment, and transmissions projects necessary to ensure everyone in the metro has access to quality water in adequate quantities at reasonable rates.

Legislative overreach

  • This legislation stands in stark contrast to Home Rule (the right for local self-government)
  • Iowa Code Chapter 388, states that a city may establish or dispose of a city utility, but it is subject to the approval of the voters of the city.
  • This legislation takes the right to vote out of the hands of the citizens of Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Urbandale.
  • Approximately 15 years ago, West Des Moines asked the citizens of West Des Moines to vote on dissolving their water board. More than 90% of the voters said no. This legislation will allow them to take over the utility without it going to the voters.
  • This is clearly an effort to bypass existing law and the will of the people.

Current version of the bill doesn’t even address regionalization

  • The amended bill doesn’t create a regional water authority, which was ostensibly the reason for the original legislation.
  • Regionalization, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. This is why a coalition of 22 metro water utilities commissioned a study in 2014.
  • House File 484 would dismantle in an instant all of our accomplishments today. The metro water utilities will find a solution to our region’s future water needs by continuing the dialogue, not dismantling what has already been done.

Why water boards were set up independently

  • Water utility boards were set up independent from city councils for a reason – to protect a public health necessity from politics. Simply stated, it is an independent local water utility owned by its customers and it works, and has worked for 100 years.
  • There is absolutely no need to dismantle the water boards in the metro area that have decades of experience of delivering safe and affordable drinking water, and have long histories of financial diligence that have resulted in healthy water systems at relatively affordable rates.
  • Currently, water rates are reinvested in the water system, funding imperative capital improvements – for example, over $3 million this year in water main replacement projects for Des Moines.
  • It is no secret the City of Des Moines needs new revenue sources. If assets, responsibilities and revenue are transferred to City of Des Moines, portions of water rates could be funneled to the general fund of City of Des Moines, circumventing needed infrastructure plans.
  • Takes the management of delivering safe and affordable drinking water from professionals and puts in the hands of politicians.

Why you should stand against HF 484

  • This is a solution looking for a non-existent problem.
  • The legislature is sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
  • The proposed legislation actually impedes the regions ability to create a regional water authority.
  • House File 484 sets a dangerous precedent for all of Iowa’s 500 independent utilities boards.
  • Legislation could impede economic growth as it puts a freeze planning and construction of new water treatment facilities.
  • House File 484 is an example of politics at its worst. This legislation is clearly retaliation for the Clean Water Lawsuit, and shows no regard to the 500,000 people who depend on Des Moines Water Works for clean and affordable drinking water ever day.
  • As we saw in Flint, Michigan, when financially strained cities make decisions for purely economic reasons, the results can be catastrophic.

 

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 8 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Customer Service, Customers, Rates November 21, 2016

2017 Budget and Water Rates

Des Moines Water Works staff has proposed Des Moines Water Works’ 2017 calendar year budget, which includes revenue from 2017 rate increases for all service areas.  The Board of Water Works Trustees will hold a public hearing for the proposed 2017 budget on Tuesday, November 22, 2016, at 3:30 p.m. at Des Moines Water Works’ general office, located at 2201 George Flagg Parkway, in Des Moines.

The Board approved a 10 percent rate increase for most customers at their October meeting. The rate increase equates to an additional $2.78 per month for water charges for a four-person household (using 7,500 gallons) in Des Moines.  Alleman customers will see a 15 percent rate increase based on capital improvements made to their water system.  In addition, a five percent increase for the Wholesale With Storage rate was approved.  The rate increases will result in approximately $3.3 million of increased water revenue for 2017.  New water rates will go into effect April 1, 2017.  For a complete listing of Des Moines Water Works’ 2017 water rate structure, visit www.dmww.com/about-us/announcements.

The proposed 2017 budget includes $62 million of operating revenue. Additional funding from outside entities of nearly $16 million will fund joint projects.

The proposed 2017 operating expenses are budgeted at $41.6 million, an increase of $1 million from 2016, primarily due to increases in labor and benefits and plant maintenance expenses.  Capital infrastructure costs are budgeted at $29.6 million. Additional funding sources of $16 million leaves approximately $13.6 million of capital projects to be funded from the utility’s revenues. This compares to approximately $10.7 million of capital projects budgeted from the utility’s revenues in 2016.  In addition to operating and capital expenditures, $5.3 million will be spent on debt repayment.

As the Board moves toward greater investment in the water utility’s infrastructure, rate increases and annual budgets will be more consistent with the challenges of producing and delivering safe drinking water.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Customer Service, Customers, Rates November 9, 2015

2016 Budget and Water Rates

The Board of Water Works Trustees has proposed Des Moines Water Works’ 2016 calendar year budget, which includes revenue from 2016 rate increases for Des Moines, total service, and wholesale water customers.  The 10 percent rate increase for all customers, approved by the Board in October, equates to an increase of about $2.55 per month for a four-person household (7,500 gallons) inside Des Moines.

The rate increases will result in approximately $3.2 million of increased water revenue for 2016. As the Board moves toward greater investment in the water utility’s infrastructure, rate increases will be more consistent with the challenges of producing and delivering quality water.

The proposed 2016 budget includes $59.4 million of operating revenue. Operating expenses are budgeted at $40.6 million, while capital infrastructure costs are budgeted at $22.2 million.

The Board of Water Works Trustees will hold a public hearing for the proposed 2016 budget on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at 3:30 p.m. at Des Moines Water Works’ general office, located at 2201 George Flagg Parkway, in Des Moines.

New water rates will go into effect April 1, 2016. For a complete listing of Des Moines Water Works’ 2016 water rate structure, visit www.dmww.com/about-us/announcements.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Rates November 24, 2014

Investment in Aging Water Infrastructure and Degraded Source Water

PumpsIn setting water rates and the proposed budget for 2015, the Board of Water Works Trustees has demonstrated a continued commitment to investing in Des Moines’ aging water infrastructure and providing safe water to customers, despite increasingly poor quality of source waters.

“While Des Moines Water Works has a long history of substantial reinvestment in water infrastructure, the aging of our assets and our increasing concerns about the impacts of climate change requires even greater investment going forward,” said Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager. “The degradation of our infrastructure is evidenced by the increasing number of main breaks, and affects our mission to provide a quality and reliable service to our customers.”

The Board of Water Works Trustees believe in a funding philosophy of “pay as you go,” where improvements and replacements are funded through rates and not funded by debt, all while maintaining reasonable water rates in relation to the rest of the country.

The proposed Des Moines Water Works’ 2015 calendar year budget includes rate increases for Des Moines, total service, and wholesale water customers. The rate increases include a 7% increase for Des Moines and total service customers and a 5% increase for wholesale customers, namely suburban customers who purchase water from Des Moines Water Works to resell to their residents. The 7% rate increase is only for the water portion of the monthly bill, not city services that Des Moines Water Works collects for city agencies. For a typical four-person household inside the city of Des Moines, the 7% increase equates to an additional $1.65 on a customer’s monthly water bill.

Certain service areas, such as unincorporated Polk County, have greater capital needs to combat an aging system and accommodate growth. Beyond a 7% increase in rates, those customers will have an additional $1.50/thousand gallon fee that will fund significant capital improvements in the service area.

The 7% increase for Des Moines customers is fundamental to supporting operations and a healthy capital reinvestment program, including facilities necessary to adequately treat source waters that continue to degrade.

“Delivering safe and reliable water to our customers is a capital intensive responsibility,” said Stowe. “Even while working efficiently, the costs for treatment and distribution of water continue to rise. To not invest in critical water infrastructure and capital improvement projects would be irresponsible.”

In addition to investment in the aging infrastructure, the 2015 rates reflect the nearly $1 million Des Moines Water Works spent in 2013 to reduce nitrate concentrations found in Des Moines Water Works’ source waters to a level below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking water standard.

Within the proposed 2015 budget, 16% of the utility’s capital budget will be spent on improvements to naturally reduce rising nitrate levels in source waters. This includes the use of sand quarries and gravel pits that naturally filter nitrate – a longer term investment and more cost effective solution in comparison to operating and expanding the expensive nitrate removal facility.

New water rates will go into effect April 1, 2015. A complete listing of Des Moines Water Works’ 2015 water rate structure is available at www.dmww.com/upl/documents/library/2015-water-rates.pdf.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Infrastructure, Rates, Value of Water, Water Quality July 1, 2014

Understanding Your Water Bill

Layout 1_Page 1Your “water bill” from Des Moines Water Works is actually a combined billing statement for water and services provided by the City of Des Moines. Some customers are surprised to learn that Des Moines Water Works is a municipality separate from the City of Des Moines. Des Moines Water Works is governed by a five- member Board of Water Works Trustees, and the City of Des Moines is governed by the City Council. While the Board of Water Works Trustees has oversight for setting policy and rates for water service, the Des Moines City Council has oversight for setting policy and rates for the city services of sanitary sewer, solid waste and storm water, which appear on your Des Moines Water Works bill.

The City of Des Moines (and other local communities served by Des Moines Water Works) contracts with Des Moines Water Works to perform the billing, collecting, and customer service for their municipal services. This collaboration is positive for customers, because it helps reduce redundancies in technologies and staff, and therefore keeps costs lower for customers. It can, however, be confusing. For the average residential customer who opens their water bill, it would be easy to mistakenly think “water” costs around $70.00 per month. In fact, in Des Moines, city services make up about $50.00 or 70% of the “water bill.” The remaining $20.00 per month represents the average customer’s true water charges – a price tag well below other utilities for which customers are paying, including electricity, gas, cable/satellite, cell phone, etc.

The Des Moines Water Works statement you receive each month includes a breakout of all the services for which you are being charged, and each section of the bill reflects whether it is a service provided by Des Moines Water Works or your city. Better understanding your monthly statement can help you better understand Des Moines Water Works’ commitment to delivering tap water that is safe, convenient, and affordable.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Rates March 6, 2014

Water Shortage Plan

Iowa weather is nothing if unpredictable. If conditions turn unfavorably dry and hot this summer, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) remains concerned about water quality and the quantity of water resources available for drinking water supplies.  To prepare for seemingly unpredictable conditions,  Des Moines Water Works has developed a Water Shortage Plan to guide utility activities and communications in the event a drought persists this summer.

What does this mean to you as a DMWW customer?  It means you may be asked to reduce water consumption, particularly in regards to irrigation.

Layout 1_Page 1 So that customers do not experience quality, availability, or pressure issues during periods of extreme water demand, this plan has several progressive stages that begin with DMWW requesting that customers voluntarily reduce turf irrigation by 25%. If demand continues to exceed 80% of DMWW’s capacity to produce quality drinking water, the plan progresses to more restrictive stages outlining a mandatory prohibition on all turf irrigation and sprinkler systems. Enforcement at this latter stage may also carry consequences, such as the termination of water for turf irrigation and/or an escalated water shortage rate structure.  If conditions turn extreme and water supplies are critically impaired, the water shortage rate structure allows for winter usage (March, April, May usage) throughout the summer, and any usage over that winter baseline will be charged at four (4) times the normal water rate.

The complete plan can be viewed here, or in person at Des Moines Water Works’ General Office, located at 2201 George Flagg Parkway, in Des Moines.

With the help of all customers becoming wise water users and working together, Des Moines Water Works can effectively and efficiently use the available water supply to provide Water You Can Trust for Life.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customers, Rates October 28, 2013

2014 Budget and Water Rates

The Board of Water Works Trustees has proposed Des Moines Water Works’ 2014 calendar year budget, which includes rate increases for Des Moines, total service, and wholesale water customers. The rate increases, approved by the Board in October, reflect a 4% increase for wholesale customers and a 5% increase for Des Moines and total service customers. The 5% rate increase for a four-person household inside Des Moines equates to an increase of about $0.75 per month.

The rate increases will result in approximately $1.3 million of increased water revenue for 2014. Des Moines Water Works had a zero rate increase last year; however, as the Board moves toward greater investment in the water utility’s infrastructure, rate increases will be more consistent with the challenges of producing and delivering quality water. For example, Des Moines Water Works experienced a significant cost of approximately $900,000 in 2013 to remove nitrate from drinking water, a cost that unfortunately has been passed on to ratepayers.

The proposed 2014 budget includes $52.2 million of operating revenue. Operating expenses are budgeted at $35.2 million, while capital infrastructure costs are budgeted at $16.1 million.

The Board of Water Works Trustees will hold a public hearing for the proposed 2014 budget on Tuesday, November 26, 2013, at 3:30 p.m. at Des Moines Water Works’ general office, located at 2201 George Flagg Parkway, in Des Moines.

New water rates will go into effect April 1, 2014. For a complete listing of Des Moines Water Works’ 2014 water rate structure, visit www.dmww.com/about-us/announcements.

For more information on where your water rates go, view this video:

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-LxCwX_Y2M&feature=c4-overview&list=UUJgCngYb6htSqTCgjCPy0iw

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Rates 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 June 10, 2013

Water Rates: Where Does Your Money Go?

Have you ever wondered where your money goes when you pay your water bill?

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service, Customers, Rates