Posts Tagged ‘water quality’December 30, 2013
With 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!
Des Moines Water Works 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, especially during a river’s thaw. Although the water is safe to drink, DMWW adjusts its water treatment processes to remedy the situation. To help reduce tastes and odors in your drinking water, DMWW will make timely switches between our source waters as needed to insure the highest quality of water possible. In addition, powdered activated carbon is added at the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant. This material absorbs taste- and odor-causing compounds before settling out in the treatment process. The effective use of chlorine also destroys objectionable tastes and odors.
Some people are more sensitive to subtle changes in taste or odors. To help dissipate the taste and odor, try storing water for drinking in a pitcher in the refrigerator. 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.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Taste and odor, water quality Posted in Customer Service, Source Water, Water Quality November 6, 2013
Did you know that Des Moines Water Works has owned about 100 acres of farm land at Maffitt Reservoir Park since 1942? In keeping with DMWW’s mission, and knowing that what we do on the land impacts the quality of our source water, we seek to adopt agricultural practices that provide protection to the water and soil resources under our ownership.
This fall, a cover crop was planted on DMWW’s Maffitt farm land. The cover crop was applied using a helicopter that planted seed in a standing soybean field. A mixture of rye (cool season grass/grain non-legumes) and hairy vetch (cool season annual legume) were planted.
Cover crops have been around for centuries, but are gaining in popularity because of their ability to control erosion, improve soil water moisture content, and the natural filtration of water through the soil profile. When the cover crop decays, it provides organic matter to produce beneficial soil organisms for soil fertility and soil health. Healthy soils improve the infiltration of water, leading to less flooding as well as reduced soil erosion and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) leaching. According to an Ohio State University Extension report, Using Cover Crops to Improve Soil and Water Quality (2009), a pound of soil organic matter has the ability to absorb 18–20 pounds of water, reduces nutrient and pesticide runoff by 50% or more, decreases soil erosion by 90%, reduces sediment loading by 75%, and reduces pathogen loading by 60%.
By using cover crops and reducing reliance on agrichemicals for crop production, we help protect the health of family and friends and reduce water quality concerns arising from non-point pollution attributed to farming practices. At a time when the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds suffer from serious degradation due to nutrient contamination, this shift in agricultural systems can play a significant and positive role in revitalizing Iowa’s river systems. For more information about cover crops, visit Practical Farmers of Iowa at http://www.practicalfarmers.org/programs/Field-Crops_cover.php or Midwest Cover Crops Council at http://www.mccc.msu.edu/.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Maffitt Lake, Maffitt Lake Park, Nitrate, water quality Posted in Environment, Maffitt Reservoir, Source Water, Water Quality August 21, 2013
On August 20, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) held their regularly scheduled monthly meeting at Des Moines Water Works (DMWW). Prior to the business meeting, Commissioners Couser, Rastetter, Sinclair, Smith, and Ver Steeg, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) staff, and representatives from environmental and agricultural organizations toured Des Moines Water Works’ Fleur Drive Treatment Plant to gain a better understanding of the treatment process. DMWW staff provided the Commissioners an insight into the condition and challenges of source waters used for drinking water for the more than 500,000 people in central Iowa.
Challenges expressed by DMWW included everything from high nitrates to flood events. However, most questions and comments stemmed from the exceptionally high nitrate levels this year. DMWW staff emphasized that even if nitrate levels are currently low, the combination of nitrates and phosphorus in the rivers and increasing temperatures will again challenge DMWW due to algae blooms. Algae can cause taste and odor problems and require additional filter maintenance, which slows the treatment process and reduces production capacity.
The EPC is a panel of nine citizens who provide policy oversight over Iowa’s environmental protection efforts. EPC members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by vote of the Senate for four year terms.Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, water quality, Water Treatment Posted in Public Policy, Source Water, Water Quality, Water Treatment May 31, 2013
Des Moines Water Work 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 on Des Moines Water Works’ website at http://www.dmww.com/upl/documents/library/ccr2013.pdf.
If you would like a printed copy of the Consumer Confidence Report mailed to you, please contact a Customer Service Representative at (515) 283-8700. If you have any questions about your drinking water, please contact Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700.Labels: Consumer Confidence Report, Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, water quality, Water Quality Report Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Water Quality May 23, 2013
Des Moines Water Works is asking metro area customers – residential and commercial – to manage seasonal irrigation for the next several weeks, even as drought conditions throughout the state continue to improve.
Due to the recent historic nitrate concentrations found in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers, Des Moines Water Works is not currently pulling water from either river. The utility is able to meet current demand by relying on other water sources, including Maffitt Reservoir, Crystal lake and aquifer storage wells. If demand increases, Des Moines Water Works will have no choice but to start taking water from the heavily polluted rivers, and may be unable to remove nitrate in a manner that keeps up with high demand.
“Although drought conditions are no longer an immediate threat to Central Iowa, increased nitrate levels from agricultural run-off, coupled with high demand, puts Des Moines Water Works in a difficult position,” Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “With the assistance of all metro customers using water wisely, Des Moines Water Works can effectively and efficiently use the available water supply to provide safe drinking water that does not violate nitrate standards.”
Wise use of water is defined as identifying efficient lawn irrigation practices, taking advantage of technological advances to eliminate waste, as well as being alert to and repairing leaking household fixtures or other large water consumption appliances in homes and businesses.
Wise water best practices for residential and commercial irrigation use include:
- Avoid lawn watering, whether from an in-ground sprinkler system or manual sprinkler, during the day time hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Evaporation from the sun is highest during this time period and less water is absorbed into the soil, meaning more water must be used to get the same effect than if watering is done outside these hours.
- Shift watering to no more frequently than the ODD numbered days of the week if your house address ends with an ODD number and EVEN numbered days if your house address ends with an EVEN number. For example, if your house number is “1521,” it is suggested that you water on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and so on days of the month.
- Test the irrigation system each spring to ensure there are no leaking sprinkler heads and that each head is properly directing its spray onto the turf and landscape.
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 December 10, 2012
Maintaining the integrity of our watersheds provides economic benefits through ecosystem services. Degradation of stream banks, aquatic species and the natural course of water can cause negative economic impacts locally and far from the altered site.
Protecting Healthy Watersheds:
- Lowers drinking water treatment costs
- Avoids expensive restoration activities
- Sustains revenue generating recreational and tourism opportunities
- Minimizes vulnerability and damage from natural disasters
- Provides critical natural system services at a fraction of the cost for engineered services
- Increases property value
- Supports millions of jobs nationwide
- Ensures we leave a foundation for a vibrant economy for generations to come
We cannot afford not to protect our watersheds. For more information on healthy watersheds visit Healthy Watersheds at US Environmental Protection Agency – www.epa.gov/healthywatershedsLabels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, water quality, Watershed Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Environment October 25, 2012
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.
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.
- 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/Labels: Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines waterworks, DMWW, Source Water, water quality, Watershed Posted in Environment, Source Water, Water Quality