Posts Tagged ‘Des Moines Water Works’

January 17, 2019

DMWW Calls on (Old and New) Friends for Telemetry Assistance

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) in some situations uses secured radio telemetry to send information from remote sites to the Control Center. This information is used to monitor various attributes of remote sites so staff can be alerted to any problems and ensure systems are running optimally.

In recent months, DMWW experienced periodic and sometimes total failure of the radio system that communicates to several facilities and water tower sites.

DMWW employees worked diligently for some time to try to remedy the issue. When no solution could be found, staff reached out to radio sales representatives and technical resources to assist with the problem. In addition, Des Moines Police (DMPD) radio department, Polk County Emergency Management, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were also contacted to help find the interference.

That’s when a relatively unknown volunteer group, Polk County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, was brought in for assistance.

The mission of Polk County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is to provide emergency radio communications for Polk County and surrounding communities when officially activated by an authorized agency. ARES is comprised of 76 volunteers and is governed by the FCC Code of Federal Regulations. An FCC requirement for maintaining radio spectrum for amateur radio is providing service to the public.

“The primary focus of our communications efforts are surrounding emergency response – specifically to augment public service communications capabilities for the various jurisdictions within Polk County,” said Scott Kirstein, Emergency Coordinator, Polk County ARES. “Fortunately, Polk County is pretty well equipped and has considerable resources to utilize for most emergencies, so we are not needed very often for the real thing; however, we do provide routine support for community events, like the Des Moines Marathon, Living History Farms Race, Fight for Air Climb, to name a few.”

A total of eight operators from Polk County ARES assembled to track down the signal interference plaguing DMWW over the course of about three weeks. DMWW, DMPD radio department, and the FCC continued to assist during the workday, while the amateur volunteers worked the late shift.

A Polk County ARES volunteer working to isolate the source of the signal in Downtown Des Moines.

After a process of elimination (finding out for sure what was not causing the interference, to determine where it could be), the volunteer group
pinpointed the signal to defunct equipment on top of a downtown Des Moines building that was causing the unintentional interference. The team contacted the owner of the license associated with the equipment and got permission to disable it, and DMWW confirmed the signal interference was gone.

Collectively, the Polk County ARES volunteer team spent approximately 70 hours to assist DMWW.

“We are just a handful of folks who are willing to help out if we can. We heard of a need, thought maybe we could help, and caught a couple of breaks to solve a problem,” said Scott Kirstein.

After the experience, DMWW has a more robust radio system with encryption and a stronger relationship with several entities who can assist if a similar problem happens in the future.

Thank you to DMPD, Polk County, FCC, and the volunteer amateur radio group in locating the signal interference and working to find solutions for DMWW’s communications systems, which are a vital element in our work to deliver safe drinking water to 500,000 central Iowa customers.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Customer Service, Infrastructure January 10, 2019

Water Regionalization Update

Des Moines Water Works has been an independent water utility since 1919. For 100 years, it has provided Des Moines with safe and abundant drinking water that has allowed the city to flourish. Since 1934, Des Moines Water Works has been providing drinking water to central Iowa communities outside of the city of Des Moines, helping the entire region grow and providing savings through economies of scale.

While Des Moines Water Works currently acts as the primary regional producer of water, we believe current and future challenges for producing water could be better met through expanded representation and involvement in decision-making, rate-setting, and capital planning, and by more equitably sharing costs and spreading the assumption of risk among the people and governments of the region.

In recent years, Des Moines Water Works has worked alongside its suburban wholesale customers to find appropriate ways that they could be included in important ratemaking and planned infrastructure decisions. Over the past two years, these discussions have been formalized and professionally facilitated by FCS Group of Redmond, Washington, with the goal of providing a pathway to create a regional water production authority for central Iowa that maximizes water resource management.

The formal discussions between three local independent water utilities (Des Moines Water Works, Urbandale Water Utility and West Des Moines Water Works) and surrounding communities have been beneficial. Each community and entity brings its own unique perspective and specific needs to the table, and after spending hundreds of hours listening and discussing these important issues, we are all more aware of each community’s needs regarding water now and into the future. At the same time, other communities and water producers are still actively pursuing new water production expansion of their own, which only complicates matters even more.

The good news is that the lines of communication between all parties remain open and productive. Des Moines Water Works will continue to invest time and resources to find a solution that will benefit the community at large. Safe and abundant drinking water is not just a necessity for continued economic growth in our area, but it is a vital necessity for life itself.

While an acceptable model for expanded regional governance of and participation in water production in central Iowa has yet to be developed, Des Moines Water Works remains committed to working with all parties interested in exploring ways to increase participation and representation in the governance of water production.

As we continue to explore water production solutions for the region, we will keep you updated on public meetings and important information. View information from the process thus far at: 
www.dmww.com/about-us/board-of-trustees/central-iowa-regional-water.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees 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 3 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