Posts Tagged ‘Des Moines waterworks’

June 12, 2017

How much longer will Iowa keep ignoring source water quality?

Listen to news reports about water quality efforts in Iowa, and you might start to think that no one wants to admit there’s a problem with Iowa rivers, lakes and streams.

Take, for example:

  • State legislators failed to pass any water quality legislation to protect the public health of Iowa citizens last session despite saying that it was a top priority.
  • Recent reports indicate that, in the past seven years, a whopping 750,000 conservation acres in Iowa have been ripped up and put back into production—to the detriment of water quality efforts and costing Iowa taxpayers $760 million in environmental benefits.Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey asserts that enrolling a paltry 3% of Iowa farmers in a cover crop program indicates “exciting momentum” for the voluntary-only Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
  • Iowa Partnership for Clean Water (a front for Iowa Farm Bureau) claims population growth is the major driver for expansion of Des Moines Water Works’ Nitrate Removal facility.

Water experts know, however, nitrate levels in Iowa’s waterways regularly exceed the public health threshold. Despite building the world’s largest Nitrate Removal Facility in 1992, adding off-river storage, treatment ponds and two additional water treatment plants, the costs and difficulty to remove nitrate from source water continue to escalate.  Rising nitrate concentrations in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers now require Des Moines Water Works to plan for several nitrate management projects in order to comply with the drinking water standard. The first project is the design then construction of an expanded Nitrate Removal Facility that will double treatment capacity from 10 million gallons per day (mgd) to 20 mgd.

Think Downstream – It’s time to confront the very real issues facing Iowa’s polluted waterways.

  • The responsibility for cleaning up agricultural water pollution from tile outlets has been placed squarely on the shoulders of our state legislature. Environmental impacts must be considered.
  • A plan must be formulated for the Nutrient Reduction Strategy that includes a timeline, benchmarks and water quality metrics to assess progress. Start with the Raccoon and Des Moines River Watersheds.
  • Establish a sustainable, adequate funding source that incorporates state, federal and private money and methodically targets and solves pollution problems in the Raccoon and Des Moines River Watersheds.
  • Adopt a set of basic standards of care required on agricultural lands tailored to the landscape that include no-till, cover crops, grass waterways and setbacks from waterways – in other words, industrialized agriculture with a conscience.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Conservation, Source Water, Water Quality June 8, 2017

Keep your cool, stay hydrated

We know we need to stay hydrated during these hot days of summer. But what drink is the best? Grab a glass of Des Moines Water Works tap water.

Tap water is safe and affordable

Municipal tap water in the United States is some of the safest water you can drink. You can go to nearly any city in the country and drink the water without giving its safety a second thought. Nonetheless, many people choose to spend more for bottled water. Studies show that bottled water is no safer than tap water, yet bottled water costs almost 2,000% more. An 8 ounce glass of water can be refilled approximately 15,000 times for the same price as a six pack of soda.

Replace sports drinks with H2O

A common myth is sports drinks are needed during and after a sports game or workout to recover. The fact is unless you work out hard for more than one hour, the fluids lost through sweat can be replaced with plain water. Drinking sports drinks when you don’t need them can lead to gaining weight. Sports drinks may be appropriate for competitive sports that last more than one hour, but during the day and at most sports practices, water is the best drink.

More tips to stay hydrated:

  • Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
  • Check on elderly family and neighbors.
  • Remember to replenish your pets’ water dish frequently.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Health, Value of Water June 1, 2017

2017 Consumer Confidence Report

Des Moines Water Works is committed to delivering safe, affordable and abundant drinking water to our customers.  Safe drinking water is treated water that has been tested for harmful and potentially harmful substances and has met or exceeded drinking water quality standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Iowa.  The EPA sets drinking water standards to define the limits of contaminants considered safe for drinking water. These levels are based on studies of the health effects associated with each contaminant and include a sufficient safety margin to ensure that water meeting these standards is safe for nearly everyone to drink.

The Consumer Confidence Report is an annual water quality report that helps customers understand the quality and safety of tap water provided by Des Moines Water Works. The current Consumer Confidence Report is now available at: http://www.dmww.com/upl/documents/library/2017ccr.pdf.   If you would like a printed copy of the Consumer Confidence Report mailed to you or have any questions about your drinking water, please contact a Customer Service Representative at (515) 283-8700.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Source Water, Uncategorized, Water Quality May 29, 2017

Community Partner: Whiterock Conservancy

Water is the great equalizer that crosses all imposed boundaries. Rivers connect communities and also protect many of the remaining wildlife corridors throughout the state of Iowa. Connect with your river this Memorial Day weekend at Raccoon River Days at Whiterock Conservancy, sponsored by Des Moines Water Works.

The four-day festival kicks off on Friday, May 26. Join Whiterock staff and regional naturalist to learn more about your community and watershed, with an educational river walk, river cleanup, demonstration programs, fishing derby, concert by Bob Dorr and the Blue Band, and much more. A full listing of event details can be found at whiterockconservancy.org or call (712) 684-2697 for more information.

Located just over an hour northwest of Des Moines in Coon Rapids, Whiterock Conservancy was formed ten years ago to manage one of the largest land gifts in the history of Iowa generously given by the Garst family. It stewards 5,500 acres along the scenic Middle Raccoon River Valley near Coon Rapids, Iowa. The Whiterock landscape is a mix of savannas, rolling pastures, native and restored prairies, wetlands, riverside bluffs, fishing ponds, crop ground, and unique historic, geologic, and archaeological sites.

Whiterock Conservancy offers over 40 miles of trials for hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and paddlers that wind through prairie, savanna, forest and fields. With three campgrounds, rooms and cottages for rent, it’s a great outdoor adventure for all ages.

Des Moines Water Works is committed to building awareness and appreciation for source water quality and quantity, and is pleased to sponsor Whiterock Conservancy Raccoon River Days this summer.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Conservation, Source Water May 22, 2017

2017 Utility Goals

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) staff has identified areas of focus for the utility in the coming year, each of which is believed to move the utility in the direction of greater efficiency, better security and planning, or improved employee health.  Quarterly updates will be reported to the Board of Water Works Trustees and published on www.dmww.com.

  1. Customer:  Develop a plan to implement a new billing and customer information system that offers enhanced customer service offerings. Begin implementation in 2017, expected to conclude in 2018.
  2. Technology:  Ensure the security of electronic payments made by customers by implementing Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant payment solutions by June 30, 2017. These changes may include changes to fees and transaction
    limits that will be communicated in advance to customers.
  3. Financial:  Contract an outside consultant to review DMWW’s approach to determining costs by service area (known as the Cost of Service study, which is the basis for rate making decisions), evaluate recommended changes, and develop a plan for implementing adopted changes.
  4. Employee:  Reduce employee OSHA recordable injuries to no more than 9, which is 75% of the industry average.
  5. Planning:  Complete long range planning and update the utility’s 5-year capital improvement plan to ensure a reliable, abundant, and affordable water supply to the metro area through 2040.
  6. Operations:  Optimize operations at DMWW’s newest plant, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant, by designing and installing additional Reverse Osmosis (RO) membranes.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees, Customer Service, Customers, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant 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 oscarson@dmww.com

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Conservation, Employees, Environment, Green Initiatives May 8, 2017

Des Moines Water Works Remains Focused on Source Water Protection

Des Moines Water Works has chosen not to appeal its Federal Clean Water case. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa issued its ruling on March 17, dismissing all of Des Moines Water Works’ claims against the Boards of Supervisors in Sac County, Buena Vista County and Calhoun County.

In March 2015, Des Moines Water Works Board of Trustees filed a federal lawsuit against the Boards of Supervisors in their capacities as trustees of 10 drainage districts. The complaint alleged the named drainage districts are point source polluters as defined by the Clean Water Act and Iowa Code Chapter 455B, and called for the drainage districts take all necessary actions to comply with the Clean Water Act. In addition, Des Moines Water Works demanded damages in an amount required to compensate for the harm the drainage districts caused by their unlawful discharge of nitrate.

“As an independent water utility, the sole focus of Des Moines Water Works is to provide safe and affordable drinking water to the 500,000 Iowans we serve. Water quality is an issue that we take very seriously, and the conclusion of the lawsuit will not change that,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “While many in the agriculture community and state political leadership took issue with the lawsuit, nobody objected to the facts showing drainage districts are polluters. The risks remain and demand immediate accountability to protect our state.”

The ruling dismissing the case did not dispute the assertion that drainage districts cause water quality problems in the Raccoon River Watershed. Rather, the court indicated that Des Moines Water Works may well have suffered an injury, but the drainage districts lack the legal ability to redress that injury.

According to Stowe, “Policy and law must keep pace as public health and water quality concerns demonstrate both risk and cost to water consumers; that includes 100-year old Iowa Code dealing with drainage districts and implementation of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy estimates that 92% of nitrate in Iowa’s water comes from unregulated sources, namely agriculture, and 8% from regulated sources, such as sewer systems. Without proper funding and water quality data to measure progress, the Nutrient Reduction Strategy cannot produce the 45% nitrogen reduction goal. The court’s ruling noted this argument, and concluded these are policy issues the Iowa Legislature should resolve.

“Central Iowa will continue to be burdened with expensive, serious and escalating water pollution problems; the lawsuit was an attempt to protect our ratepayers, whose public health and quality of life continue to be impacted by unregulated industrial agriculture,” said Stowe. “These serious problems have been placed squarely on the shoulders of our state legislators. The old, business-as-usual, voluntary-only approach will never result in the 45% nitrogen reduction. We hope that, rather than wasting valuable time and resources crafting legislation designed to punish Des Moines Water Works for filing the lawsuit, our legislators can create bold laws that address water pollution. True source water protection is vital to our customers and community.”

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees, Customers, Source Water, Water Quality May 1, 2017

Central Iowa Drinking Water Cooperation

Des Moines Water Works has a long history of providing central Iowa 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. Legislative threats to impact these historic relationships are damaging to metro interests and impact local authority.

Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission (CIRDWC) was formed in 2001, with the primary objective to create a collaborative approach to meet the Des Moines metro’s water needs. CIRDWC is comprised of 22 members, including several who do not purchase water from the Des Moines Water Works.

A significant regionalization study was commissioned by CIRDWC, and completed approximately two years ago.  The study has evolved into ongoing discussions among technical water experts, including an extensive Long Range Plan to evaluate central Iowa’s water needs and supply, treatment and distribution capabilities through 2035. Regionalization is extremely complex and must be left to water professionals. The Board of Trustees have established a Regionalization Review Committee to purse a regionalization model.

Des Moines Water Works values our relationships 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.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Customers April 20, 2017

Contact Your State Representative Today

State Representative Jarad Klein is making a last ditch effort to dismantle Des Moines Water Works by sneaking the language from House File 484 into House File 655, which deals with the Local Option Sales Tax for our schools.  It’s bad enough that some in the legislature felt compelled to meddle with local independent utilities, but to try and pass legislation that would impact 500,000 people in central Iowans without people knowing about it is simply wrong. Contact your state representative and tell them to stop playing games with your local water utility.

Last week, Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission (CIRDWC) passed a resolution opposing the legislation that would dissolve independent water utilities in Des Moines, Urbandale, and West Des Moines.  CIRDWC also sent the below letter to State Representatives.

Dear Representative:
The Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission (CIRDWC) respectfully requests that you vote “no” if asked to support HF484, a bill that dissolves the water utility boards of Urbandale, West Des Moines and Des Moines.

Central Iowa currently has a commission to further regionalization — CIRDWC, a coalition of metro area public water suppliers which are already collaborating on regionalization plans. The role of CIRDWC in the coming months will be elevated even further as we endeavor to regionalize.

  • Regionalization is extremely complex and must be left to water professionals. CIRDWC has taken a methodical, data-driven approach to regionalization thus far: production, distribution, permitting, demand projections and asset management decisions are extremely complex and must be left to water professionals—those who have decades of experience in the field.
  • Regionalization should not be forced onto communities that may not be able to afford it. Forced regionalization, if mandated by state law, may force communities to contribute millions of dollars to buy in. Costly and important decisions such as this must be left to local control within the communities.
  • Regionalization is a local interest and should be addressed by local water professionals and leaders who are knowledgeable of the intricacies of our systems and communities, and who wish to work in a collaborative manner towards improved source water quality.
  • Dissolution of the water utility boards and transferring assets and operation into their respective cities as a step toward regionalization is unnecessary. The current bill would dissolve the utility boards of Des Moines, Urbandale and West Des Moines. Nothing is gained by moving the utilities from their current structure to a city department. The forced transition of finances, contracts, employee benefits, etc. will create months of work and chaos not to mention the costs that would be borne by the ratepayers.

Thank you for your time and for your opposition to HF484 and/or any amendments concerning regionalization.

Respectfully submitted,
22 Members of Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 3 Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Board of Trustees, Customer Service March 21, 2017

HF 484/SF 456 A Gamble Not Worth Taking

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.
  • In a recent survey of the Des Moines metro, 88% of registered voters said that people who live in the community should have final say over whether to remove an independent utility.
  • The poll results mirror the results of the West Des Moines vote in 2003, on whether or not to dissolve its independent water utility.

Regionalization is already Underway and should not be forced

  • Safe drinking water is a public health issue, and should not be gambled.
  • Regionalization needs to be done in a thoughtful and meaningful manner.
  • Des Moines Water Works is open to and has been actively participating in regionalization discussions for the past few years.
  • It is not necessary for the legislature to create a study committee to examine regionalization because one already exists.  It’s called CIRDWC – Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission.
  • CIRDWC has already completed a regionalization study, and is now in the final stages of a 20-year forecast of the water needs in central Iowa.
  • CIRDWC already provides every metro community with a seat at the table.  This legislative action would not only duplicate and confuse ongoing efforts, but also disregard the work that has already be done.

HF 484 is a mess

  • It takes the management of delivering safe and affordable drinking water from professionals and puts in the hands of politicians.
  • HF 484, as written, has no plan, no mechanism for funding, no assurance that technical experts will be involved.
  • The bill has been changed numerous times; it has had new amendments and language added and then deleted.  The 500,000 people who rely on Des Moines Water Works have been left in the dark.
  • 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.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone 9 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, History, Infrastructure, Public Policy, Source Water, Water Quality, Water Treatment