Posts Tagged ‘Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission’September 9, 2016
Des Moines Water Works has a long history of providing the Des Moines metro area with safe, affordable and abundant drinking water. The utility’s regional approach began as early as 1934, when Urbandale began receiving water from Des Moines Water Works because their wells were going dry and water was being rationed. Since then, most suburban communities have connected to Des Moines Water Works, and Des Moines Water Works remains committed to continuing to be a regional water provider that meets the growing needs of our area.
With the assistance of 22 members of the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission, Des Moines Water Works has begun a long range plan to evaluate the Des Moines metro area’s water needs and supply, treatment and distribution capabilities through 2035. This work is important so Des Moines Water Works is able to provide water to growing communities when and where it is needed over the next 20 years.
Des Moines Water Works values our relationship with metro area communities and believes Des Moines and suburban customers alike have benefited from a long standing and strong working relationship. A regional approach provides economies of scale and encourages collaboration in jointly constructed assets and facilities, including treatment plants, storage facilities, and pumping stations. Additionally, a regional approach promotes economic development in the metro area, as communities work together to provide a reliable and adequate water supply to new industries and customers with a heavy reliance on water service.
Local and national experts agree that water rates are on the rise, in part due to deteriorating infrastructure and rising debt among utilities. The Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission (CIRDWC), a body of elected and appointed officials from central Iowa formed by 28E agreement to provide water system planning for the entire region, is proposing a study be performed by an independent consultant to evaluate the feasibility whether a regional water production utility can provide better service and accommodate future demand. The estimated $250,000 study could show whether merging area water production utilities, most of which already receive at least a portion of their water from Des Moines Water Works, could result in lower rate increases and better service in the future.
The main driving factor of the study is to assure central Iowans have reliable sources of water and it is being produced at a reasonable cost. A regional model has the potential for several other benefits, including:
- Financial savings by spreading overhead costs, engineering costs and other expenses over a larger customer base
- Improved long-term planning about where new treatment plants should be built and how to address potential water shortages
- A more representative government structure
“It is smarter for the region to combine its production operations and expand together, rather than individual cities investing in their own treatment facilities at greater cost to consumers and without coordinated planning,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works.
Stowe pointed to the Wastewater Reclamation Authority as a model for successful collaboration. The organization includes 17 local municipalities, counties and sewer districts. The City of Des Moines is the operating contractor, but membership to the governing board is based on population.
The proposed study will focus on the potential outcomes of combining drinking water treatment and production services and assets, but not distribution. If efforts to establish a regional utility do move forward, the responsibility of delivering water to customers and setting distribution rates would remain with individual cities and water providers.
A Request for Qualifications will be issued this spring to identify a consultant to complete the study, which could take six months to complete. As a preliminary step, the feasibility study will identify what options are available and does not mean a regional water production utility will ultimately be pursued.