Posts Tagged ‘water quality’April 17, 2012
Some people are more sensitive to subtle changes in taste or odors. Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) uses the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers as water sources. By using surface water, there can be some seasonal variations that occur. The treatment process should eliminate the variation in finished water, but sometimes there will be a slight change some customers may notice. For example, there may be a slight increase in smell or taste of chlorine at times, especially during a river’s spring thaw. This is easily remedied by storing water for drinking in a pitcher in the refrigerator.
If you think you have an issue with taste and odor of the water in your home, there are a few things you can do to determine the source of the problem. Check to see if the problem is apparent in all fixtures of the home. For example, is the issue apparent in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room utility sink? Many times the issue is only at one fixture. This would indicate the cause is something in the household plumbing. A few things to consider would be: Has there been a recent change in the household plumbing? Do you have an in-home water treatment device that needs regular service or filter changes? Plastics can impart flavors and odors to the water; this can include parts in the faucet, plumbing lines, or appliances. If the problem is present in all fixtures, try running the tub or shower faucet for a period of time and then recheck to see if there is still an issue.
If it is an odor issue, try pouring a glass and then smelling it in another room. Sometimes the odor may be coming from another source, possibly a drain or garbage can, in the same room. By eliminating this possibility, one can ensure that it is the water that contains the odor. If you notice a sulfur odor, it may be from your home’s hot water heater. If the temperature is not set high enough, bacteria can grow in the water heater. A possible solution for this would be to turn the heater up high for a couple hours then return the setting to a normal level. If this is done, please use caution the first few times water is turned on, as water could still be hot.
If you are storing drinking water for convenient use, here are a few things to help prevent taste and odor issues. Store water in a glass container, as plastic can impart taste or odors to the water. Also make sure the container has a good seal. Store in the refrigerator as water will have less flavor when chilled. If the water has sat for a while, it may be flat. If this is the case, pour it back and forth between containers or shake it to help aerate the water. This will help to add oxygen to the water and remove the stale, flat flavor.
If you are still experiencing problems, please call your Des Moines Water Works at 283-8700 and report the issue and the duration the problem has been apparent. We will work with you to diagnose the problem.
Water Day at the Iowa State Capitol is January 17, 2012, and Des Moines Water Works will be there on behalf of the approximately 500,000 people in DMWW’s service area.
Every Year, DMWW sees Water Day as an opportunity to talk with legislators from Central Iowa and across the state about improving and protecting water resources in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers, the sources of water for DMWW drinking water. Reducing nutrients, bacteria, and algae blooms in our source waters helps protect public health and contain the cost of treating drinking water for our customers.
This is also an opportunity to discuss protecting the utility’s $352 million of infrastructure from flood events – infrastructure owned by the citizens of Des Moines. In 1993, the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant was flooded and DMWW was not able to provide drinking water to customers for approximately 10-14 days. Since 2008, more than 65-feet of river bank have been lost at the L.D. McMullen Treatment Plant well field site, putting several wells at risk for damage. More frequent (and intense) rainfall events and expeditious movement of water off the landscape through tiling, have exacerbated flooding. The connectivity of surface water, ground water and soils exist on all levels and need to be managed as a system. The power of moving water, whether a raindrop or a torrent of flood water, can be better managed in Iowa.
Its stuffy nose season, and you may be in the habit of using a neti pot to clean your sinuses. However, we want you to be safe.
Recent news has reported two people in Louisiana who died after using a neti pot with amoeba-inhabited water.
Like Louisiana’s health authorities, Des Moines Water Works recommends neti pot users boil (then cool!) water before using it to irrigate your sinuses.
Naegleria is an amoeba that lives in natural water throughout the world. The Louisiana warning notes that Naegleria fowleri infections are very rare. In the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, 32 infections were reported in the U.S. However, people can contract it in Iowa as well as in other states. Tap water varies in its purity from one water utility to another. Finished drinking water provided by DMWW is nearly sterile, but there exists a miniscule chance that a Naegleria cyst could be present in some of the water. To be on the safe side, we recommend that you always bring water to a rolling boil and cool prior to using in your neti pot.
It is important to note that water for drinking or bathing presents no danger from Naegleria.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Neti Pot, water quality Posted in Customer Service, Health, Water Quality November 16, 2011
Arsenic is an odorless and tasteless semimetal element. It occurs naturally and is a byproduct of some agricultural and industrial activities. Higher levels tend to be found in ground water sources than in surface water.
Human exposure can lead to short- and long-term health effects. Long-term exposure has been linked to some forms of cancer. Short-term exposure to high levels (1000 times higher than the EPA limit) can lead to adverse health effect, such as nausea and vomiting, but such an exposure is highly unlikely from a Public Water System (PWS) in compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.
The EPA has set the current Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of arsenic at 10 parts per billion (ppb). This would equate to roughly a few drops of food coloring in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) sees very low levels, at or below quantitation limits, of arsenic in our source waters. DMWW’s three treatment plants all have treatment processes in place that remove over 90% of arsenic from the source waters. This ensures that DMWW finished drinking water is well below the EPA’s MCL for arsenic. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the enforcement agency of water regulations for the EPA, only 0.3% of PWS in Iowa had arsenic violations in 2010.
Should you be worried about arsenic in your water? If you receive water from a Public Water System, they are already testing for it and will list levels detected in the Consumer Confidence Report they are required to provide every year. If the MCL is violated, the Public Water System must provide a public notice.
If you have your own water supply and are concerned about arsenic or other contaminants DMWW provides testing services for nominal fees. If you have questions about your drinking water, please contact DMWW at 515.283.8700.
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:
2702 SE Delaware
3140 SE 14 Street
Urbandale Police Department
3740 86th Street
West Des Moines Police Department
250 Mills Civic Parkway
West Des Moines
Iowa Department of Public Safety HQ Building
215 East 7th Street
Johnston City Hall
6221 Merle Hay Road
Altoona Fire Department
950 Venbury Drive
Polk City City Hall
112 S. 3rd Street
The Des Moines Chapter of Izaak Walton League will coordinate the 2011 fall Polk County Snapshot event. Partners for the Snapshot include the Izaak Walton League, Iowa Environmental Council, State Hygienic Laboratory and Des Moines Water Works. Volunteers do not need experience to participate. Sampling is done in groups of two to four people, and we try to make sure at least one experienced volunteer (someone who is a trained by IOWATER or has done the snapshot before) is with each group.
Water monitoring of Polk County rivers, streams, ponds and lakes is conducted in the spring and fall. In sampling events held the past 7 years, volunteers helped collect water samples at over 70 sites throughout the county. For safety reasons, it is required that there is a minimum of 2 people per team. Children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.
Volunteers should register with Mike Delaney at email@example.com or (515) 339-0438.
Volunteers will meet at the Izaak Walton League, 4343 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines, IA to get their site assignments, sampling gear and instructions.
What is a snapshot? A snapshot is a view of water quality within a short time frame. It involves sampling the water in a specific location from your local creek, stream, river or lake. Most snapshots usually require about six hours.
Who participates? Anyone can participate… teachers, students, city and county employees, concerned community members, clubs and other group organizations… both young and seasoned volunteers alike! Anyone with an interest in water quality in Central Iowa is encouraged to get involved.
Why are Snapshots conducted? To learn more about the quality of our source waters and ways we can help improve them.
What do you find in a snapshot? Results have shown that most streams in the metro area are impaired with pollutants from agricultural operations, urban runoff and human wastewater. Nearly all metro streams contain numbers of disease-causing E. coli bacteria, nitrate and phosphorus at levels well beyond the safe standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
How can I get involved? It’s easy! Just contact Mike Delaney at firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 339-0438.
It has been known for hundreds of years that alkali solutions (solutions with a high pH, the opposite of acids) remove dirt from clothing. This is why lye was once used as a detergent. Most of today’s laundry detergents are anionic surfactants that become alkaline in wash water. A surfactant is something that can dissolve (or dissolve in) two dissimilar substances – like oil and water, for example. An anion is a negatively-charged particle. Since dirt is largely positively-charged, the negatively-charged anions from the detergent attach to it, and then the complex dissolves in the wash water, away from the clothing.
Hard water contains a lot of positively-charged calcium and magnesium ions. Remember that dirt is also positively-charged. This means that the detergent must chelate, or “lock up” the calcium and magnesium ions before it can affectively clean. This explains why hard water requires more soap for cleaning. The chelating agents in detergent combined with calcium and magnesium ions often appear as soap scum. Animal fibers (silk and wool) are not affected by alkaline wash solutions – this is why they need dry-cleaning. Some non-ionic (neutral) detergents may be used for these fabrics.
Fabric softeners are positively-charged surfactants. They are acidic in water. They alter the surface of the fibers so they feel soft to the touch. They also may remove some residual soap and dirt particles from the fabric.
As a public water utility, Des Moines Water Works is required to monitor, test and report results to the federal and state drinking water agencies responsible for making sure the water we produce meets the National Primary Drinking Water Standards. DMWW must notify you when contaminants are in the water that may cause illness or other problems. So, you can rest assured that the water delivered to your tap meets the highest standards possible for drinking water safety.
However, there are some unique situations that fall outside the realm of the testing DMWW does on a regular basis. Here are two situations in which you may want to consider your own home testing:
Do you suspect lead may be in some of your household plumbing materials and water service lines?
DMWW does test for lead as a regular part of its water monitoring, but these tests give a system-wide picture. They do not reflect conditions at a specific household faucet, like lead-based pipes or solder.
Have your water tested if you suspect unsafe levels of lead due to the plumbing in your home. Some faucet and pitcher filters can remove lead from drinking water. Be sure your filter is certified to remove lead by NSF International.
Are you considering a home water treatment unit?
Have a home water sample tested at a commercial lab to find out what is in your water and what you might want to remove before contacting potential dealers. Be informed so you can make the right decisions about the right type of unit.
To learn more, please visit the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/ or call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Lead, water quality Posted in Customer Service, Water Quality September 13, 2011
- Samples of source water are taken prior to the treatment process on a daily basis.
- The samples are then placed in containers, such as petri dishes or pouches with numerous tiny capsules, along with “media,” a substance that acts like food for the bacteria.
- The samples are then left to incubate for approximately 24 hours.
- During this time, a bacterium can multiply from one to millions, making a colony that can be seen by the human eye in the culture plate.
The laboratory tests specifically for Coliform bacteria. Coliforms can be counted on a grid in the petri dish. E. Coli is grown in pouches with wells of medium. When placed under an ultraviolet light, the E. coli flouresces to a blue color indicating how many are present.
These tests are done before treatment and are indicators of the absence or presence of potential contamination in the water sample. All new water mains are tested for bacteria and must be free of all harmful bacteria before they are put into use.
The lime treatment process used by Des Moines Water Works kills 99.9 percent of bacteria and a chlorine additive eliminates anything that might be left, ensuring that your tap water is Water You Can Trust for Life.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, E. Coli, Laboratory, water quality, Water Treatment Posted in Water Quality, Water Treatment August 25, 2011
Q: No matter how often I wash my towels or what detergent I use, they retain a musty odor. Is it something in the water? What can I do to get them fresh-smelling?
A: This is a very common observation that is almost never caused by the water. Ironically, all that washing could be part of the problem, especially if you’re using an excessive amount of detergent. If the detergent isn’t completely rinsed out of the towels, mold will grow on the residue, causing a musty odor.
Cutting back on detergent might solve the problem, especially if during the rinse cycle you add a half-cup of white vinegar or baking soda to neutralize the odor.
It’s more likely, however, that your washing machine itself is the culprit. Or rather, the smelly fungus that can grow inside the washer, especially on the rubber or plastic seals, gaskets and hoses.
Because towels are thicker and more absorbent than most items that go through the wash, they trap more fungus — and therefore the musty odor is more noticeable.
The easiest way to solve this problem is to do a “maintenance wash” with no clothes or detergent, using hot water. Using a small dose of bleach in your maintenance wash should help. Some people also find using a small amount of lemon juice or ammonia instead of bleach solves the problem. One maintenance wash per month is a good idea if this is a chronic problem.