Posts Tagged ‘Des Moines Water Works’

October 9, 2018

Imagine a Day Without Water

It can be easy to forget that some issues we all care about cut across geographic and political lines. Citizens may have different opinions on a variety of issues, but when it comes to our daily lives, they have a lot in common. They get up in the morning, brush their teeth, use the bathroom, and make coffee. They shower, do their laundry, and wash the dishes. Hospitals provide lifesaving services. Firefighters put out fires. But none of that would be possible without safe and reliable water.

A day without water is threatens our health, safety, and economy. That’s why Des Moines Water Works is joining with hundreds of groups across the country for Imagine a Day Without Water, a national day of action to raise awareness about the value of water.

If you’ve never experienced it before, it may be hard to imagine a day without water. But for some communities in Iowa (Creston and Greenfield) and across America (Flint, MI and Toledo, OH), they already know.

The vast majority of Americans, across parties and regions, want the federal government to invest in our water infrastructure. Investment in water infrastructure has not been a federal priority for decades, leaving it to local water utilities and people who pay water bills to make up the difference. While the U.S. government is currently funding $82 billion less than what is needed to maintain our water infrastructure, Des Moines Water Works proactively invests in the water system with water main replacement and other infrastructure improvements.

On Imagine a Day Without Water, Des Moines Water Works is kicking off the second annual Citizen Water Academy, with 24 participants from across central Iowa seeking to learn more about our most important resource: the water we depend on for life. Though Des Moines Water Works has successfully supplied safe, abundant and affordable drinking water to central Iowans for almost 100 years, the associated planning, production, distribution, monitoring and challenges are not common knowledge among most citizens. It is our hope that the Citizen Water Academy graduates not only come away from the Water Academy with a better understanding of their local water utility, but are also equipped to help lead the discussion on important water issues now and in the future.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Value of Water October 2, 2018

Water Works Park Improvements

Construction of the first phase of Des Moines Water Works Park improvements is underway. The improvements include a two-way amphitheater, great lawn, celebration lawn, restrooms, a marketplace, natural play areas and outdoor classrooms, pathways, and parking. Improvements are expected to be completed by May 2019. The area will provide a platform for park users to engage in educational, recreational, and cultural activities. A passageway under Fleur Drive to safely connect Water Works Park to Gray’s Lake Park is planned for 2019.

 

In the coming months, park users can also expect a dedication of “The Wild,” a celebration of the over 1,400 acres of Water Works Park that will remain largely untouched. These areas will be enhanced with signage and virtual information tools that allow for more self-discovery and understanding the role Des Moines Water Works Park plays in both clean water production and the many ecosystems contained within.

The Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation has privately raised funds for the park improvements and do not come from Des Moines Water Works ratepayers. For more information on the planned Des Moines Water Works Park improvements, visit: www.dmwwpf.org/future-plans.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Des Moines Water Works Park September 19, 2018

Critical Infrastructure Upgrades Since 1993

Water is one of the most useful things on Earth and also one the most powerful. As the Des Moines metro area prepared to celebrate 25 years of progress from the historic Flood of 1993, residents once again witnessed firsthand the devastating force of nature during the flash flooding of late June 2018, with pockets of the metro area receiving 6 to 10 inches in a matter of hours. Tributaries of the Raccoon River and Des Moines River reached record or near-record levels. The localized flash flooding caused significant damage to many homes and businesses.

After monitoring river projections through the late evening, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) staff began flood preparations for the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant in the early morning hours of July 1. While the Raccoon River at Fleur Drive did not reach record stages like the Flood ’93, the physical and informational changes made since 1993 have been tested numerous times:

  • Levees surrounding the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant were built up an additional 6 feet.
  • Flood gates were installed around Fleur Drive Treatment Plant and George Flagg Parkway General Office.
  • Stormwater upgrades inside Fleur Drive Treatment Plant were made to protect against internal flooding during heaving rains.
  • Access to the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant during a flood event were improved with the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway interchange construction.
  • Critical support functions at the General Office were relocated to ensure access of important data.
  • Two additional water treatment plants – L.D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir and Saylorville Water Treatment Plant – were built to create redundancy in our water treatment capabilities.
  • Three Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells were also constructed to provide redundancy.
  • Real-time river data from United States Geological Survey, National Weather Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were made available. The availability to this important data is invaluable to staff for emergency planning and preparation.

(photo of Fleur Drive Treatment Plant flood gates during 2008 flood)

With these critical infrastructure upgrades, Des Moines Water Works is able to remain committed to providing safe, affordable and abundant water service, even in times of crisis.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Flooding, Infrastructure September 10, 2018

Gallery ‘Flooding Station’ 100 Years Old

Des Moines Water Works Fleur Drive Treatment Plant has the option of three different sources of raw water. The first and best source is a shallow groundwater collection system called the Infiltration Gallery. The Gallery system is a three-mile long, porous pipe constructed with concrete rings. The gallery runs parallel to the Raccoon River in Water Works Park from SW 46th Street to Fleur Drive. It collects naturally-filtered water from the sand and gravel of the river valley. The concrete rings are four and five feet in diameter and two feet long and are held slightly apart so water can trickle into the pipe. The Gallery system at Des Moines Water Works dates back to 1884, when the first 260 feet was constructed. By 1910, over 6,000 feet of Gallery had been excavated and placed in service.

Prior to 1910, when Des Moines’ water supply was deficient, trenches were dug in nearby sandbars or whole surfaces of sandbars were cleaned off to allow them to flood at a shallow depth and augment the water supply to the Gallery. After Gallery extensions were made in 1910, “emergency filters” were also constructed to collect water for infiltration. Thus began the construction of the current ponds in Water Works Park to augment the water supply to the Gallery.

During the drought of 1916 and after, extremely low water levels were artificially increased using a temporary pumping station to pump water from the Raccoon River onto a low-lying area. About five million gallons per day (mgd) were pumped onto the ground to flood an area of about four acres. Since this worked so effectively at increasing water supplies in the Gallery, it was decided to build a permanent pumping station at this location in 1918. It was placed into service in February 1919, and contained two motor-driven centrifugal pumps that could each pump 5 mgd. Since it was originally used to flood the land, it became known as a ‘flooding station,’ not pumping station.

One interesting fact about the Gallery flooding station is who the architect was: Norman T. Vorse. Mr. Vorse was a well-known architect of the time. He designed many Des Moines landmarks, including Court Avenue Bridge, Des Moines Municipal Courthouse (now the home of Des Moines Police Department) and Hoyt-Sherman Auditorium.

The Infiltration Gallery provided all the water to the Des Moines area until 1949. Increased water demand required construction of an intake on the Raccoon River in 1949, and the drought of 1977 precipitated construction of an intake on the Des Moines River in 1980. Today, the Infiltration Gallery system provides the first 20 million gallons of water each day, and a century later, the flooding station is still in use.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Infrastructure, Source Water August 1, 2018

2018 Citizen Water Academy

Though Des Moines Water Works has successfully supplied safe, abundant and affordable drinking water to central Iowans for almost 100 years, the associated planning, production, distribution, monitoring and challenges presented by contaminated source water are not common knowledge among most citizens.  With water quality on the minds of Central Iowans, Des Moines Water Works is hosting it’s second annual Citizen Water Academy of Central Iowa in an effort to engage the public in more detail about the evolution of drinking water and understand plans for the future that meet the growing needs of our community. Last year, DMWW hosted 24 participants in the inaugural Citizen Water Academy.

The Citizen Water Academy of Central Iowa is designed to help current and emerging leaders in our community learn and appreciate our most important natural resource; the water we depend on for life.  Attendees will receive 16 hours of instruction, tour multiple treatment plants operated by Des Moines Water Works, listen to presentations from soil and water professionals, and interact with our expert Des Moines Water Works staff over the four sessions of this program.  It is our hope that participants not only come away from the Water Academy with a better understanding of their local water utility, but are also equipped to help lead the debate on important water issues now and in the future.

What to Expect

All sessions are held at Des Moines Water Works general office.

Session 1: Wednesday, October 10, 1:00-5:00 pm

Theme: Imagine a Day Without Water

Session 2: Thursday, October 25, 1:00-5:30 pm

Theme: What is the value of clean water?

Session 3: Thursday, November 1, 1:00-5:00 pm

Theme: Working to protect source water

Session 4 and Graduation: Wednesday, November 7, 1:00-5:00 pm

Theme: Putting knowledge into practice

There is no tuition, fee, or charge to apply to attend the Citizen Water Academy.  For more information on the Citizen Water Academy and to apply to be a part of the 2018 class.  For more information and to apply, visit www.citizenwateracademy.com

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service July 25, 2018

New Aquifer Storage and Recovery Well Serving Central Iowa Customers

Des Moines Water Works has utilized aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells as sources of water since late 1990s. These wells are installed deep into the Cambrian-Ordovcian Aquifer, also referred to as the Jordan Aquifer, and are used to store drinking water that is needed when water demand is high. When water demand is low, mainly during winter months, drinking water is injected into the wells which displaces the native Jordan Aquifer water. Up to 450 million gallons can be stored in an ASR well during the winter months when Des Moines Water Works has excess water treatment capacity. In summer months, during higher water demand, the drinking water is pumped out of the ASR well and into the water distribution system for use by customers.

West Des Moines Water Works, a wholesale customer of Des Moines Water Works, needed to purchase additional water from Des Moines Water Work to meet the needs of Microsoft Corporation. To meet the water demand requirements of Microsoft, West Des Moines Water Works, City of West Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works entered into a Chapter 28E Agreement to construct a new ASR Well facility. The Army Post Road ASR Well facility will be placed in service this summer and will provide an additional 3 million gallons of water per day to help serve Microsoft and other Des Moines Water Works’ customers.

The total cost of this project is $6.1 million. The City of West Des Moines and the West Des Moines Water Works paid $4.655 million of the cost while the Des Moines Water Works paid $1.4 million dollars. The Des Moines Water Works also provided the 5.28 acre site for the Army Post Road ASR Well facility along with the engineering design and construction management for the project.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customers, Water Treatment June 29, 2018

No water quality success worth reporting or celebrating

The Iowa Farm Bureau is perturbed that the news media didn’t do more to cover the fifth year anniversary of Iowa’s voluntary Nutrient Reduction Strategy and the conservation progress being made by Iowa farmers.

The Iowa Farm Bureau pouting because they are not receiving enough praise and admiration from the media is funny considering the influence they wield with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, and key members of the Trump administration.

Since her ascension to the office of Governor, Des Moines Water Works has requested a meeting with Governor Reynolds on numerous occasions.  Each time we have been told she is working hard to make Iowa better, but has no time in her schedule to sit down with a utility that supplies drinking water to one-sixth of the state’s population.  Even after parts of nine Southwest Iowa counties were without drinking water recently, the Governor’s office still brushed off a request to sit down and discuss important issues related to access to safe drinking water.

While Governor Reynolds continues to refuse to meet with Des Moines Water Works, she has appeared or partnered in numerous events with the Iowa Farm Bureau and other commodity groups in her first 13 months in office.  From water quality events in Northwest Iowa to speaking at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting, Reynolds doesn’t miss an opportunity to be seen with the organization. In fact, Reynolds even joined Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt when he visited the Iowa Farm Bureau in August of 2017.

One would think the Iowa Farm Bureau could deal with being ignored in a news cycle so long as they have the ear of decision makers in Des Moines and Washington D.C.

As for the substantive part of the Iowa Farm Bureau’s latest article about farming and conservation, we commend them for finally acknowledging that farmers have responsibility for water quality.  As well as Rep. Steve King’s recent comments on the House floor about Iowa farmers’ contribution to the Gulf of Mexico’s ‘Dead Zone,’ in his Amendment to the House Farm Bill.  This is truly a breakthrough.  Finally, Iowa Farm Bureau acknowledges agricultural activities do impact water quality (even if, erroneously, the author believes Iowa’s water quality has improved since the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was implemented).  However, if it’s the truth you are seeking, it should be easily verifiable by data and the problem is that the facts and science are not on the Iowa Farm Bureau’s side.

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy has failed.  Nitrate concentration in both the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers has been unchanged since the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was introduced in 2013.  However, nitrate loads in both rivers has actually increased during that same time frame.  And remember, the stated goal of the program was to reduce Iowa’s contribution of nutrients in our rivers, streams, and lakes by 45 percent, which is nowhere in sight.

In fact, a recent study from the University of Iowa shows the state’s contribution to the nitrogen pollution in the Gulf of Mexico has grown by almost 50 percent, despite the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  The study also shows that Iowa is responsible for 55 percent of the nitrogen load is the Missouri River.  Chris Jones, a research engineer at the University of Iowa’s IIHR–Hydroscience & Engineering, states, “The way that pencils out is that the amount of water coming from Iowa has seven times more nitrate than the rest of the Missouri River watershed.”

The Iowa Farm Bureau is seeking praise for farmers because some of them have chosen to enact conservation practices on their land.  While it is indeed good and right to commend farmers who take the necessary steps to protect water sources and improve soil quality, a voluntary approach is never going to achieve the desired results.  It is time for a bold approach to address water quality in our state.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Des Moines Water Works is required to meet the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for the maximum contaminate level (MCL) in its finished drinking water. When nitrate concentrations in Des Moines Water Works’ source waters (Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers) are above 10 mg/L, the utility must deploy costly nitrate removal solutions in order to meet the Safe Drinking Water Standard for its finished drinking water.

With no measurable improvement in our sources waters, Des Moines Water Works has no choice but to continuing investment to de-nitrify because the condition of the Raccoon River is deteriorating.  Our continued investment in the Saylorville Water Treatment Plant on the Des Moines River is necessary because it is more financially prudent to avoid the more heavily polluted Raccoon River.

The current game being played by the Iowa Farm Bureau and our elected leaders is a dangerous one.  It makes ribbon cuttings and press releases touting unrealized success a priority, while the conditions of our source waters are simply ignored.  The doors at Des Moines Water Works will continue to remain open to anyone who wants to discuss how we can all work together to improve water quality in the state.  Let’s not confuse “collaboration” or “cooperation” with back-slapping cheers for the status quo.  We realize that unless our current leaders choose to leave the echo chamber they are currently residing in, not much is going to change.  And that is unfortunate and dangerous. Iowa’s surface waters are a public health disaster in waiting.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Source Water, Water Quality June 18, 2018

Updated Security for Credit Card Payments on DMWW Website

As of June 1, 2018, industry online security standards have changed because previous versions have been shown to be vulnerable to attack.  Companies that accept payments by credit card, including Des Moines Water Works, are no longer supporting the security protocol known as TLS 1.0, and are instead supporting versions TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2.  In order to initiate online transactions from older browsers, it may be necessary to update your PC to include the latest version of your browser.    The minimum accepted versions after June 1, 2018 are:

  • Internet Explorer: 11 (Current 11)
  • Google Chrome: 44 (Current 60)
  • Firefox: 38.1 (Current 55)
  • Edge: 12 (Current 15)
  • Opera: 30 (Current 47)
  • Safari: 9 (Current 11)
  • Safari Mobil: 8 (Current 11)
  • Android OS Browser 5.1 (Current 8)

We strongly recommend users upgrade their internet browser and anti-virus software to the latest version available to maintain the highest level of security.  Customers will be unable to initiate payments online at www.dmww.com until their browser has been updated to the minimum version listed above.

This change is mandated by the PCI (Payment Card Industry) Security Council and affects all merchants and service providers that transmit credit card data. Please update your operating system and browsers to ensure compliance with these new safety protocols.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers February 13, 2018

Exploring Variations in Water Quality Parameters in the Raccoon River

Rivers are incredibly dynamic ecosystems. To paraphrase the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, no one ever steps into the same river twice, because it’s not the same river nor the same person. A team of scientists from Drake University has been investigating changes in the Raccoon River at various locations over an 18-month period.

“The goal of our work is to understand the patterns of the Raccoon River across space and time,” said Peter Levi, a faculty member in Drake University’s Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability.

Every two or three weeks since June 2016, Levi and several students from Drake visit nine sites in the South, Middle, North, and mainstem Raccoon River. The sampling sites are bridges and boat ramps – from Minburn and Redfield to downtown Des Moines

Levi and his team have been focused on several key parameters that are important metrics of water quality: suspended sediment, nutrient concentrations in the water, and the rates of sediment denitrification (a natural microbial process that permanently removes nitrate from river water). Together, measuring these parameters at frequent intervals over an 18-month time period will allow the scientists to investigate the influence of seasonal changes and land-use on water quality in the lower Raccoon River watershed. The field component of the research will continue through December, but Levi has already seen interesting results.

“The different branches of the river fluctuate so much between each other on the same date and within the same branch across dates. It will be exciting to wrap up the fieldwork and start to analyze the patterns in relation to climate and landscape data.”

The research by Drake’s Stream Ecosystem Ecology Lab (SEEL) has been a community effort. Teams of citizen scientists were deployed to sample the Raccoon River at more points in July 2017. Three teams of volunteers covered over 80 river miles in just three days. The intensive sampling will provide the researchers an opportunity to understand how each branch varies at a much finer scale.

In August 2017, Des Moines Water Works agreed to provide Drake University analytical assistance for the monitoring project of the Raccoon River.  This laboratory support is provided at a reduced rate, saving Drake approximately $30,000.

“We appreciate Peter Levi’s work and Drake’s support of monitoring nutrient trends and natural denitrification rates in the Raccoon River,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager. “This project could be the start of a great partnership examining nutrients in our source waters.”

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Source Water, Uncategorized, Water Quality February 1, 2018

Water Main Replacement Program

Water main replacement planning is a necessary, preventative approach that saves money on repairs, reduces the loss of water that occurs as a result of the main breaks, and minimizes disruption to customers.  Des Moines Water Works budgets for water main replacement to maintain and upgrade the distribution system by replacing water mains that have a history of breaks, to improve the fire flow, relocating to accommodate city, county, or state construction projects, and upgrading water mains to meet the needs of customers.

Several factors impact which water mains are replaced and the approach to planning for 2018 was different than in years past.  Des Moines Water Works’ Long Range Plan through 2040 included the analysis of water main break data occurring within the system.  Through this analysis, a relative risk score was created based on the assessment of consequence of  failure, likelihood of failure, and a capacity factor.  Pipe segments consisting of risk scores in the highest range are highly recommended for replacement.  Staff from various departments provided input while creating the priority list of streets for water main replacement.  Des Moines Water Works’ 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) includes approximately $7 million of water main replacement each year.  The City of Des Moines also has a 5-year CIP for city streets and sewers.  Des Moines Water Works and the City of Des Moines work collaboratively to choose the streets to be the most cost effective and cause the least disruption to customers.

After each project is designed, Des Moines Water Works will receive bids from contractors and the construction contract will be awarded to the contractor that will be performing the work.  If the bids received allow Des Moines Water Works to complete all the streets within budget, construction will take place in 2018.  Construction not completed in 2018 will take place in future years.  Des Moines Water Works is currently contacting customers directly in the neighborhoods throughout Des Moines and Polk County that have been scheduled for water main replacement in 2018.  Additional customer letters and public meetings will be forthcoming.  Des Moines Water Works appreciates the cooperation and understanding from customers during construction and will work with contractors to minimize the inconvenience to customers impacted by the following projects:

Polk County Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 1

  • NE 14th Street from I-80/35 Westbound Off Ramp to NE 43rd Avenue

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 1

  • Thomas Beck Road from Crown Colony Court to 1401 Thomas Beck Road
  • Fleur Drive from George Flagg Parkway to SW 22nd Street
  • Maple Street from E 2nd Street to E 4th Street
  • E 4th Street from Maple Street to Des Moines Street
  • Alternate Street – Watrous Avenue from SW 14th Street to Glover Avenue

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 2

  • SW 9th Street from Johnson Street to Amos Avenue
  • SW 10th Place from Southdale Drive to County Line Road
  • SW 11th Street from Southdale Drive to County Line Road
  • SW 15th Street from Army Post Road to Johnson Street
  • Alternate Streets – SE 8th Street from E Miller Avenue to E Rose Avenue and Wall Avenue from SW 13th Place to SW 12th Street

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 3

  • Kenyon Avenue from SW 16th Street to SW 9th Street
  • SE 14th Street from E Diehl Avenue to E Thornton Avenue
  • SE 14th Street from E Thornton Avenue to E Watrous Avenue
  • Alternate Street – Pioneer Road from SE 14th Street to 1603 Pioneer Road
Posted by: Laura Sarcone 1 Comment
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Infrastructure