Posts Tagged ‘Raccoon River’April 25, 2013
Here’s an exciting opportunity for river enthusiasts! Plan to participate in Iowa Rivers Revival’s “Master River Steward Program” in the Des Moines/Raccoon River Watershed. This will be Iowa Rivers Revival’s second year offering this program. The eight week course, beginning May 14, will focus on riverine systems, including skills to paddle and navigate rivers, restore aquatic habitat, improve water quality, and understand policies related to floodplains, river protection and restoration.
The “Master River Steward Program” will build on a network of river experts in various partner agencies and organizations. It will help adult learners collaborate to protect and improve Iowa’s rivers, so that current and future generations can enjoy these resources. Visit Iowa Rivers Revival’s website to view an outline of last year’s program: http://iowarivers.org/education/river-stewards/.
Registration Cost: Participants will pay a fee of $50 which will include program materials. Participants will be expected to attend each session and there will be “homework” assignments following each class – materials will be provided. Please register by April 30, 2013.
Feedback from 2012 Pilot Participants:
- “Great class, thoroughly enjoyed each and every session.”
- “Great leadership. Great resources/readings. Great speakers. Great group.”
- “Really enjoyed class. Had zero expectations coming in. Was surprised by the amount of river experience/Project AWARE tie in. Really enjoyed meeting such passionate people. Each week gave me something to think about and discuss with co-workers.”
- “This was a fantastic program. I came in with no expectations, but left every night excited to share what I learned with others… Thanks so much for putting this together. I will become active in the stewardship of rivers at a far greater level due to this program.”
For more information and to register, contact:
Rosalyn Lehman, Executive Director
Iowa Rivers Revival
PO Box 72, Des Moines, IA 50301
Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR) is Iowa’s only statewide river education and advocacy organization committed to protecting one of our most precious natural resources – our rivers and streams. Since 2007, IRR has been working to engage individuals, organizations, communities and our government leaders in river awareness, responsibility and enjoyment in an effort to improve and enhance the condition of Iowa’s waterways – ensuring a quality, safe and lasting resource for future generations.Labels: Des Moines River, Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Iowa Rivers Revival, Raccoon River, water quality, Watershed Posted in Environment, Source Water, Value of Water, Water Quality October 16, 2012
Des Moines Water Work’s primary water sources are the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers. Land use in the Raccoon and Des Moines River Watersheds is overwhelmingly agricultural. About 1.7 million of the 2.3 million acres in the Raccoon watershed is cultivated for corn and soybeans. Land covered by perennial vegetation is nearly non-existent outside urban areas. Much of the corn-soybean system requires constructed drainage (agricultural tile drainage) to maximize yields. Manure and commercial fertilizers applied to crop land are transported during rainfall events as either run-off or discharged to a river through a tile drainage system. All of these factors have resulted in various consequences for water quality and challenges for drinking water utilities.
Today, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) will meet to discuss whether or not to continue to ban manure application to soybean crops. Manure is a source of nutrients used in combination with or in place of commercial fertilizer. Nutrients in water are necessary for healthy watersheds; however, in high concentrations they can adversely affect aquatic life and human health. For a drinking water utility, increasing nutrient loads can cause difficult and costly challenges at the source, in the treatment process, and at the tap. Monitoring trends in the Des Moines and Raccoon River since 1974 show the ever-increasing trend of nitrate-nitrogen (a nutrient) loading and concentrations. Without a comprehensive, measurable state nutrient standard and strategy these conditions will be perpetuated.
All waters in Iowa are “public waters and public wealth” of its citizens and is for the beneficial use of all citizens. It is also the policy of the State of Iowa – delegated to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission – to protect existing water uses and to protect and maintain the physical, biological and chemical integrity of all waters of the state. Making a decision on whether manure should be applied to soybeans is again representative of the piecemeal approach to nutrient management that will not effectively decrease non-point source nutrient contributions to Iowa’s surface and ground water resources.
Des Moines Water Works provided comments to EPC commissioners strongly urging them to take this opportunity to support development of comprehensive nutrient management strategies and standards. Standards that protect Iowa’s water resources, promote economic development, and enhance the quality of life necessary to attract workers and jobs to the state. And most importantly, establish the target so many producers and the public have requested.
It is not Des Moines Water Works’ intent to tell people how to farm or what they can and cannot do on their land. But it is our intent, to rigorously advocate for establishing a comprehensive nutrient strategy, setting numeric nutrient standards, and the aggressive reduction of non-point source nutrient contributions to Iowa’s surface and ground water resources.
Des Moines Water Works and the drinking water industry ensures that the investment the public has made in them results in all Iowans having access to safe drinking water. We believe every Iowan who drinks a glass of water should recognize the importance of our water resources to sustaining life and the critical connection between our water resources and food production, an existence and connection that should occur without degradation of our water resources.
Producers are able to make all the decisions on his or her land, but those decisions are having dramatic consequences that impact others. Integrated solutions on a watershed scale and involvement of all stakeholders in the planning and implementation process is critical to generating change. Whether you live in an urban, rural or something in-between, we are all part of the watershed and whatever we do in our daily lives impacts water quality in the watershed.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Raccoon River, Source Water, water quality, Watershed Posted in Environment, Source Water, Water Quality July 30, 2012
Des Moines Water Works through the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission Assisting Dallas County Board of Supervisors in Formation of a Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed Alliance
The State of Iowa has authorized local governments to address flooding and management of water and soil resources in watersheds across the state through the formation of local alliances. An alliance is formed through a 28E agreement (contractual agreement between governmental organizations) with representatives appointed by city, county and soil and watershed conservation districts (SWCD) within the watershed. An advisory body with landowners and other groups will also be part of the process. The watershed alliance has no taxing authority and no impact on the authority of a city, county, or SWCD to conduct its business. Instead, the alliance will educate, coordinate and leverage resources for the betterment of the watershed.
The Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed Alliance is working within the following vision and mission statements:
Vision: A regional alliance with resources to lead, and support improvements in soil protection, flood management and water quality.
Mission: To facilitate regional collaboration that will identify strategies and goals to educate the public, reduce the risk of flood events, and leverage resources for improved soil and water quality protection.
As outlined by legislators in Iowa Code the alliance can:
- Educate residents
- Identify sources of funding to institutionalize the Watershed Management Alliance
- Assess flood risks
- Assess options for cutting flood risk
- Monitor state & federal flood risk planning activities
- Assess water quality
- Leverage funding of multiple partners
- Allocate state and federal moneys available for water quality and flood risk reduction programs and implement best management practices
- Implement the Raccoon River Master Plan
- Enter into contracts and agreements
Source: Iowa Code Chapter 466B, Subchapter III
The Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed Management Alliance has just recently been selected to partner with the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) on a multi-year project to monitor, plan, and implement watershed projects aimed at improving soil and water resources and the adverse impacts of flooding. Phase I will focus on the Middle Raccoon River watershed. The IFC formally announced the partnership June 22, 2012, in Redfield, IA.
The landscape of the Middle-South Raccoon River Watershed is located in the best of rural Iowa, where community is tied to the tradition of farming and outdoor recreation. The benefits gained from the partnerships in the Middle-South Raccoon River watershed is a place where agriculture, communities, recreation, and Iowans thrive and prosper.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Raccoon River, Source Water, water quality, Watershed, Watershed alliance Posted in Environment, Flooding, Source Water, Water Quality June 20, 2011
Are you looking for a fun, relaxing outdoor activity? Grab your fishing pole, tackle box and lawn chair and head to Water Works Park to try your luck at fishing. With the scenic surroundings, even if the fish aren’t biting, you’ll certainly enjoy the solitude and beauty of nature.
Fishing has always been a favorite pastime in Water Works Park. The park offers a multitude of perfect fishing spots, whether it is along the banks of the Raccoon River that winds through the park or one of the 12 ponds.
A variety of fish species can be found in the waterways that inhabit the park — bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, bullhead, and carp, to name a few. The ponds are adequately stocked with fish due to the frequent flooding of the Raccoon River. Also, this past May the Iowa DNR released 10,000 “keeper” size bullheads in the ponds for the Hy-Vee Fishing Derby, and rumor has it that many of those fish are still there.
Both the river and the ponds are accessible to the public during normal park hours. Patrons must abide by the Iowa Fishing Regulations, as posted on the Iowa DNR’s website: http://www.iowadnr.gov/law/regs/regs_fish.pdf
Do you have a favorite fishing spot in Water Works Park?
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has contracted with the Missouri & Mississippi (M&M) Divide RC&D and Agren, both located in Carroll, Iowa, to develop a comprehensive watershed plan for the Raccoon River. Agren, Inc. was founded by brothers Tom and Stan Buman in 1996 as a private consulting firm dedicated to helping agriculture find profitable solutions to environmental challenges. The master plan will guide management efforts with a focus on improving water quality in the Raccoon River watershed.
Agren facilitated “expert panels” to evaluate both agricultural and urban stormwater best management practices (BMP). Following the expert panel events, the potential water quality impacts of recommended practices were estimated by Iowa State University scientists. More than 80% of the land use in the watershed is dedicated to row crop agriculture, so initially the implementation plan will concentrate on agricultural BMPs. Consideration is also being given to various incentives and funding sources for implementation of the recommended practices.
This month, another panel focused on what a watershed management organization should look like to ensure the master plan is implemented when completed. Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) participated on the panel. Discussion consisted of what the barriers are to effective watershed management, what type of watershed authority could overcome the barriers, and evaluation of scenarios for watershed management. Throughout the discussion it was apparent that DMWW will continue to be a key partner in managing the Raccoon River Watershed.
Recommendations best suited to protect the source of drinking water for approximately 500,000 people in central Iowa and restore and maintain an environmentally and economically sustainable landscape. These recommendations will be compiled into a comprehensive Raccoon River Watershed Master Plan. Public comments on the plan will be solicited this spring, with the final plan development completed by June 2011.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Raccoon River, water quality, Watershed Posted in Environment, Public Policy, Value of Water, Water Quality February 10, 2011
Water from our rivers is “hard,” meaning it has a high mineral content, especially calcium and magnesium. This is because 100 million years ago, what is now Iowa, was under the surface of the ocean, and large limestone deposits are the result. As rain water and snow melt trickles through the limestone, toward shallow groundwater and eventually into our streams, it dissolves mineral deposits. Hardness is reduced in DMWW’s treatment plants using a process called lime softening.
The river water has a high nutrient content, especially nitrate-nitrogen and phosphorous. Some of the fertilizer used for crops is washed away or enters the streams through agricultural drainage tiles. Our super-rich soils also contain a lot of natural nitrogen and phosphorous, which is liberated from the soil during cultivation. The Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers have the highest and second-highest nitrate concentrations of the 42 largest Mississippi River tributaries. DMWW operates the world’s largest nitrate removal facility at its Fleur Drive Plant.
Our rivers have a relatively high level of sediment. Erosion is a natural process that has been greatly increased by both rural and urban land uses. It’s likely that most Iowa streams ran much clearer prior to settlement than in the present day. Loss of native perennial vegetation and increased streamflows because of human modification of natural hydrology, along with changes in land use and climate, are the primary culprits for increased erosion. In addition, levees have divorced streams from their floodplains, increasing river energy during high flows. This helps the stream scour sediment from the stream bed and banks. DMWW removes about 20,000 pounds of sediment (1,400 pounds per million gallons) from the treated river water every day, so the water will be clear and safe to drink.
Although DMWW’s source waters are considered impaired, DMWW is continuously adapting its treatment processes to deliver Water You Can Trust for Life.
Watershed, catchment, and drainage basin are all the same thing: an area of land that drains to a common point. Small watersheds drain into larger watersheds in a hierarchical pattern. For example, the Mississippi River Watershed is comprised of hundreds of other smaller sub-watersheds.
The City of Des Moines is located at the bottom of two large catchments: the Raccoon and the Upper Des Moines River watersheds. These are two of the 42 largest sub-watersheds in the Mississippi River basin. Water draining from more than 5 million acres, from as far away as Jackson, MN, flows through the city. Des Moines Water Works treats water from both rivers to provide Des Moines Area residents with drinking water.
Knowledge of Iowa’s geological history and current land uses are necessary to understand each river and its water quality. Both the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers flow through and drain the Des Moines Lobe Landform. It was here that a glacier covered the landscape only 12,000 years ago. The weather warmed and the disintegrating ice sheet formed the prairie pothole region that was once home to uncounted millions of waterfowl. After the glacier melted, the landscape was colonized by tallgrass prairie and wetland plants that helped form the region’s tremendously rich soil. The rivers ran clear and cold as rain water was naturally filtered through the perennial vegetation.
The early European settlers found the region nearly uninhabitable due to the swampy landscape and swarms of mosquitoes. A few decades after arrival, they realized that the soils formed under such conditions were ideal for the cultivation of corn. But first, large scale drainage was necessary. Networks of porous drainage pipes (now known as tile) were buried to lower the water table and dry out the soil. These were connected to constructed drainage ditches, essentially forming hundreds of new streams where none previously existed. This enormous project was mostly complete by 1920, although farmers continue to connect into and improve the system in the present day.
Constructed drainage and replacement of perennial vegetation with annual crops turned Iowa into the world’s richest agricultural region. But altering the natural hydrological system also had an impact on water quality in Iowa’s streams, this is will be discussed in the next piece in this series.
The Raccoon River was above flood stage in Water Works Park seven times in 2010. Even though record high flood levels were not reached, all that water creates a lot of work and makes us wonder what the future will bring.
In 1993 the levee surrounding Water Works’ Fleur Drive Treatment Plant was overtopped by flood waters, leaving the Des Moines without water for more than a week. Since then a number of projects have been completed to help ensure this does not happen again.
Most importantly, the levee surrounding the Fleur Drive Plant has been raised by six feet to a level four feet above the record 1993 water level. A flood gate has also been added which can be closed quickly as compared to the earthen plug that was used to close the levee in the past. These improvements have not seen water as high as 1993 but they were tested during the flooding in 2008 when more than 8 feet of water rose against the 14-foot tall flood gates. The levee and flood gates performed well and treatment plant facilities were protected.
In addition to levee and flood gate improvements the Water Works has added additional sources of supply since 1993. In 2000 the LD McMullen Water Treatment Facility went into service near Maffitt Reservoir with the ability to produce up 25 million gallons of water per day. Four aquifer storage and recovery wells have also been constructed around the metro with a combined capacity of over 10 million gallons per day. Later this year the new Saylorville Water Treatment Plant will go on line with the capacity to supply up to an additional 10 million gallons per day to the metro area. Taken together these facilities provide valuable backup to the primary Fleur Drive Water Treatment Plant.
All of these changes have helped protect the water supply but Water Works Park is still vulnerable to flooding. Just this year the high water has caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage to park roads, plantings, and other park facilities. Each time the water level goes above flood stage the cleanup effort in the park requires hundreds of man hours to complete. In addition high water resulted in the cancellation or relocation of numerous events scheduled on park grounds including concerts, cultural festivals, and family gatherings.