Posts Tagged ‘Source Water’

January 18, 2016

Water Quality Monitoring and Public Data

As consumers, we think of “nutrients” as something good and even necessary to support maximum crop yields.  But pollution occurs when the amount of nutrients present or applied to land are more than can be used by plants.  Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) that are discharged into our water are wasted resources and pose significant, costly risks to human health and the environment, both here in Iowa and the Gulf of Mexico.

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. The MCL standard for nitrate (a form of nitrogen) is 10 mg/L (or 10 parts per million).  The health risks associated with nitrate contamination above MCL include Methaemoglobinemia, or also known as “blue baby syndrome,” where infants under six months of age who consume water over 10 mg/L may lose the ability to transport oxygen. It is unknown how higher nitrate levels affect the broader population, but researchers are studying potential impacts.  When nitrate concentrations in Des Moines Water Works’ source waters (Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers) are above 10 mg/L, the utility must operate a costly nitrate removal facility in order to meet the Safe Drinking Water Standard for its finished drinking water.  In addition to public health risks to drinking water, nitrate pollution also contributes to the hypoxic conditions in public waters, including the Gulf of Mexico’s “Dead Zone.”

Water Quality

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was introduced in 2012 with a stated goal to eventually reduce the state’s contribution of nutrients in rivers, streams and lakes by 45%.  However, in order to see those results many things need to happen – including agricultural accountability, effective monitoring and sustained funding.

Source water quality is a vital interest of Des Moines Water Works, which has been increasingly threatened by agricultural pollution.  Because of this interest, Des Moines Water Works is pleased to recognize progress in water quality research and monitoring of Iowa’s rivers, lakes and streams, by initiatives currently being developed by the IIHR – Hydroscience and Engineering program at the University of Iowa, headed by Dr. Larry Weber.  IIHR has been a worldwide leader in hydrology and fluids-related research for nearly a century.  The IIHR is focused on science-based research, independent of Iowa Board of Regents’ bias.

Research at IIHR includes a network of 28 water quality monitoring sites throughout Iowa. State-of-the-art remote sensors provide near real-time data (every 15 minutes), that measure nitrate, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, specific conductance, and pH.  Researchers at IIHR have also developed an easy-to-use web platform, the Iowa Water-Quality Information System (IWQIS), to disseminate and interpret the sensor data.  IWQIS displays near real-time data on nitrate and other water-quality variables from in-stream sensors across Iowa in a user-friendly interface.  This new information makes it possible for all interested Iowans to use a science-based approach when making decisions that affect water quality.  Des Moines Water Works encourages citizens to visit http://iwqis.iowawis.org to view this interactive tool containing real-time water conditions and historical data.

wqi-map2 2

IIHR’s monitoring network will expand to 55 sites in 2016. Coverage will include all the state’s major rivers. For the first time, water quality researchers will be able to quantify many important parameters, including the total amount of nitrate leaving Iowa via the state’s rivers and the effectiveness of specific nitrate mitigation efforts.

Des Moines Water Works remains committed to protecting Iowa’s water by holding agriculture accountable for environmental protection, just like any other business who discharges into Iowa’s waterways.  The water quality monitoring and public data collected and compiled by IIHR and presented by the IWQIS are important steps to assess the condition of Iowa’s waterways, quantify the effectiveness of water quality efforts, and track progress toward meeting water quality improvement goals.  Please support IIHR’s leadership in science-based environmental protection.

 

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Water Quality December 30, 2013

Cheers from Des Moines Water Works!

cheers to waterWith the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we should not forget another important December date. December 16 was the 39th anniversary of the signing of the Safe Drinking Water Act, a landmark law providing for the nation’s health, wealth, and welfare.

Even though drinking water in the United States is considered to be one of the safest in the world, water contamination still occurs. There are many sources of contamination, but in Iowa and for Des Moines Water Works, the primary source of contaminants (fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, and concentrated animal feeding operations) comes from land use. Make 2014 the year you engage in serious discussions locally and statewide about this growing problem. These should not be sterile discussions influenced by data and statistics – although alarming data and statistics exist. Healthy source waters and agriculture can co-exist. They must – both are critical to a sustainable future.

The presence of certain contaminants in our source water can lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons may be especially susceptible to illness. Everyone and everything is connected to water. And, no one can afford to remain silent while water quality continues to degrade in Iowa. Seek out and understand the source(s) of your drinking water, what threats are relevant, and take action that will improve and protect these water resources. Information can be found on the DMWW website, www.dmww.com.

Holiday drinking doesn’t have to include sweet and creamy or spiked and spicy elixirs – sometimes water is all you need, especially if you serve it with good food and great conversation.  So this holiday season, celebrate with a toast to accessible, affordable and safe drinking water. And in the New Year, become an advocate for clean water in Iowa.

Cheers from Des Moines Water Works!

Posted by: Linda Kinman 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Source Water, Water Quality October 25, 2012

Where Does Your Water Come From?

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. It is a three-mile long, porous pipe constructed with concrete rings. This runs parallel to the Raccoon River in Water Works Park, and collects water from the sands and gravels of the river valley.  The ponds in the park are also there to help recharge the gallery.   It 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.

Des Moines Water Works selects its source of water each day, and sometimes can change throughout the day, due to water quality and the ability to treat different substances present in the source water.

Some of the challenges Des Moines Water Works is faced with in selecting the best source water include:

  • Availability:  The first choice would be the gallery, but most days there is not enough capacity to supply all the water needed, so a second source is needed to supplement the gallery.
  • Algae and bacteria:  These can cause treatment challenges, such as plugging filters or taste and odor issues.
  • Nutrients:  Some of these are naturally-occurring in the environment, but most are man-made.  They can be from sources such as agriculture, livestock, or wastewater treatment.
  • Other:  Turbidity (cloudiness of the water), hardness (dissolved minerals in the water), organic material (plant decomposition) or taste and odor.
  • Episodic events:  There may be an accidental spill or chemical release into the river.
  • Cost:  The gallery and Raccoon River are available at the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant, but the Des Moines River has to be pumped five miles from the intake to the plant.  This adds additional cost when Des Moines Water Works must use the Des Moines River.

Many of the challenges Des Moines Water Works sees changes daily, so monitoring is done continuously.  Evaluating the source water and determining what is the best available and at the cost is to treat that source ensure Des Moines Water Works can deliver water you can trust for life.

Posted by: Jeff Mitchell No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Infrastructure, Source Water, Water Quality, Water Treatment October 17, 2012

40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

Forty years ago, in the midst of a national concern about untreated sewage, industrial and toxic discharges, destruction of wetlands, and contaminated runoff, the principal law to protect the nation’s waters was passed. The Clean Water Act (CWA) set a national goal “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,” with interim goals that all waters be fishable and swimmable.

The Act embodied a new federal-state partnership, where federal guidelines, objectives and limits were to be set under the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while states, territories and authorized tribes would largely administer and enforce the CWA programs, with federal technical and financial assistance. In Iowa, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is delegated to administer the CWA.

The Act also gave citizens a strong role to play in protecting and restoring waters. Ways you can support and become involved in improving and protecting water quality in your watershed:

  • Start or join a watershed improvement and protection group
  • Organize a river, stream or lake clean-up event
  • Get trained as an IOWATER volunteer
  • Get school kids, churches, civic organizations involved in education, projects and programs
  • Talk with policymakers about your support for watershed funding and programs – City Councils, County Supervisors, Legislators and others
  • Write letters to the editor of  your local newspaper about what good water quality means to you
  • Talk with family and friends about the importance of clean water

We must work together to protect clean water in Iowa for our families and future generations. Everyone has an impact on the water and we are all responsible for making a difference. Water is worth it.

To learn more about the Clean Water Act, visit: http://water.epa.gov/action/cleanwater40/

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Environment, Source Water, Water Quality October 16, 2012

Manure Application to Soybeans

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.

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Environment, Source Water, Water Quality July 30, 2012

New Raccoon River Watershed Alliance

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.

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , Posted in Environment, Flooding, Source Water, Water Quality April 20, 2012

Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. to provide a venue for persons who want to dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  Each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.

Proper disposal of prescription drugs is also important to water quality.  Unwanted prescription drugs thrown down the drain or toilet can end up in water ways, potentially harming aquatic life, recreational activities and the quality of source water used for your drinking water.

Find a collection site near you.  In Polk County, you can drop off unwanted and unused prescription drugs at these locations:

Walgreens
2702 SE Delaware
Ankeny

Walgreens
3140 SE 14 Street
Des Moines

Walgreens
3030 University
Des Moines

West Des Moines Police Department
250 Mills Civic Parkway
West Des Moines

Iowa Department of Public Safety HQ Building
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines

Johnston City Hall
6221 Merle Hay Road
Johnston

Altoona Fire Department
950 Venbury Drive
Altoona

Polk City City Hall
112 S. 3rd Street
Polk City

URBANDALE POLICE DEPARTMENT
3740 86TH ST
URBANDALE

DYMOND PUBLIC SAFETY CENTER
8505 HARBACH BLVD
CLIVE

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Source Water, Water Quality March 19, 2012

Des Moines Water Works Urges Congress to Link Farm Assistance to Water Quality

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) are urging Congress to link conservation compliance requirements and federal farm subsidies and/or crop insurance to efforts by farmers to minimize negative water quality impacts of their operations, AMWA and a coalition of water utility, conservation and environmental organizations said in a policy statement released last week at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

Under the banner of the “Healthy Waters Coalition,” AMWA and other groups also called on Congress to prioritize nutrient runoff control as a primary goal in watersheds impaired by nutrients and to facilitate monitoring of nutrient reductions as part of ongoing state and federal water quality monitoring programs. Lawmakers are currently working to put together the 2012 Farm Bill, so the policy statement is intended to shape their work on the Conservation Title.

Speaking at a press conference marking release of the report, AMWA Executive Director Diane VanDe Hei stressed the importance of keeping nutrient pollution out of drinking water sources, where it can increase treatment costs for downstream drinking water utilities and pose public health threats if not properly removed. While drinking water systems will always do what is necessary to keep their finished water safe, VanDe Hei said, “the most effective solution is to keep excessive nutrients out of source water in the first place.”

The complete policy statement is available on AMWA’s Legislative Information webpage at www.amwa.net/cs/leginfo (scroll down to category – Farm Bill Reauthorization, March 2012).

Contact Senators Grassely and Harkin to let them know you support water quality in the 2012 Farm Bill.

 

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Public Policy, Source Water, Water Quality October 27, 2011

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 29, 2011, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. to provide a venue for persons who want to dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  Each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.

Proper disposal of prescription drugs is also important to water quality.  Unwanted prescription drugs thrown down the drain or toilet can end up in water ways, potentially harming aquatic life, recreational activities and the quality of source water used for your drinking water.

DEA, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, conducted National Prescription Drug Take Back Days on Saturday, September 25, 2010 and April 25, 2011.  Nearly, 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation participated in these events, collecting more than 309 tons of pills.

Find a collection site near you.  In Polk County, you can drop off unwanted and unused prescription drugs at these locations:

Walgreens
2702 SE Delaware
Ankeny

Walgreens
3140 SE 14 Street
Des Moines

Walgreens
3030 University
Des Moines

Urbandale Police Department
3740 86th Street
Urbandale

West Des Moines Police Department
250 Mills Civic Parkway
West Des Moines

Iowa Department of Public Safety HQ Building
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines

Johnston City Hall
6221 Merle Hay Road
Johnston

Altoona Fire Department
950 Venbury Drive
Altoona

Polk City City Hall
112 S. 3rd Street
Polk City

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Water Quality September 20, 2011

The Importance of Dams & Reservoirs

Water is the vital resource to support all forms of life.  Unfortunately, water is not evenly distributed by location or by the season of the year. Some areas of the country are more arid and water is a scarce and precious commodity.  Other areas of the country receive more than adequate amounts of rain causing occasional floods and loss of life and property.  Throughout history, dams and reservoirs have been constructed to collect, store and manage the supply of water to sustain civilization.

The primary benefit of dams and reservoirs is water supply.  Reservoirs also provide benefits such as flood control, recreation, scenic beauty, fish and wildlife habitat and, at some dams, hydro-electric power.  Currently there are about 45,000 dams higher than 50 feet throughout the world.  While some are more than 2,000 years old, over 70% have been built in the last 50 years.

The Maffitt Dam was constructed by Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) as an emergency water supply.  Construction started in August 1943 and the dam was completed in March 1945.  Water was pumped from the Raccoon River to fill the reservoir.  Maffitt Reservoir stores 1.57 billion gallons of water.  The original plan was to store water in the reservoir that could be released during periods of low flow in the Raccoon River.  The current plan is to use water from the reservoir as an emergency raw water source for the L.D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant.

In May of 1982, DMWW entered into a contract with the State of Iowa to purchase storage capacity in the Saylorville Reservoir.  DMWW paid a portion of the Saylorville Reservoir construction costs and makes annual payments for a portion of the operational costs.  These payments give DMMW access to 3.2 billion gallons of Saylorville Reservoir water that can be utilized in a drought situation.

Between the Maffitt and Saylorville Reservoirs, DMWW has access to 4.77 billion gallons of water to meet the water needs of our customers in the event of an emergency or drought situation.

Posted by: Gary Benjamin No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , , , Posted in Infrastructure, Maffitt Reservoir, Value of Water