Posts Tagged ‘water quality’

April 25, 2013

Master River Steward Program

DSC_2146Here’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.”

Funding for this program has been provided by Metro Waste Authority, Des Moines Water Works, DNR IOWATER, Polk County Conservation Board and Iowa DNR River Programs.

For more information and to register, contact:

Rosalyn Lehman, Executive Director
Iowa Rivers Revival
PO Box 72, Des Moines, IA 50301
515-724-4093
rlehman@iowarivers.org

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.

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , Posted in Environment, Source Water, Value of Water, Water Quality December 10, 2012

Healthy Watersheds Support Healthy Economies

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/healthywatersheds

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Environment 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 June 4, 2012

Annual Water Quality Report

Look for Des Moines Water Works’ 2012 Consumer Confidence Report in your June statement. This annual water quality report summarizes the results of our water monitoring program as required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during 2011. Many of the analyses are required by the Safe Drinking Water Act and other regulations; however, we monitor for contaminants above and beyond the basic requirements. Water supplied by Des Moines Water Works continues to meet and surpass all state and federal drinking water standards.

Please take time to read your annual water quality report – it is important to understand the facts about the quality of water delivered to you, your home and/or business. If you receive your bill statement from Des Moines Water Works electronically (E-statement), you can access the report online at http://www.dmww.com/water-quality/water-quality-data/water-quality-reports/ or request a copy of the report from a Customer Service Representative. If you have questions regarding the report or water quality, please contact us at (515) 283-8700.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Water Quality, Water Treatment 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 April 19, 2012

Des Moines Water Works Celebrates Earth Day

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is gearing up for a special Earth Day weekend full of activities that promote watershed protection and wise use of Earth’s resources.

DMWW is a sponsor for City of Des Moines’ 2012 Trash Bash on Friday, April 20.  This year’s event is dedicated to improving Iowa’s waterways and water quality.  Teams of volunteers will kick-off the event at Nollen Plaza, where DMWW will have an educational booth and debut the DSMH2O Mobile Water Station for visitors to fill up their reusable water bottles!  Be sure to “check-in” to DSMH2O on Foursqaure to receive a free reusable water bottle or T-shirt!  Trash Bash volunteers will then set out to pick up trash in various locations around the city, including Water Works Park.  Last year, over 1,000 volunteers removed 6,000 pounds of trash, tires and recyclables.

DMWW will have an interactive booth at the Science Center of Iowa’s Earth Day Fair on Saturday, April 21 at 11:00 am.  Stop by for fun games, including fishing for pollutants! Be sure to “check-in” to DSMH2O on Foursqaure to receive a free reusable water bottle or T-shirt!

At both events, DMWW will be asking visitors to complete a Take Back the Tap pledge form, encouraging everyone to choose tap water over bottled water whenever possible, as well as support policies that promote clean, affordable tap water for all.  Complete the pledge form and submit it to Des Moines Water Works by June 15 to be entered into a drawing to win a Des Moines Water Works prize pack!

Also, plan a visit to the Des Moines Botanical Center on Sunday, April 22.  Enjoy FREE admission on Earth Day!

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Conservation, Customer Service, Green Initiatives, Water Quality April 17, 2012

What if My Water Tastes or Smells Funny?

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.

Posted by: Jeff Mitchell No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Water Quality, Water Treatment