Archive for May, 2011

May 24, 2011

First Graders Dedicate Book to DMWW

A first grade class from Ankeny recently dedicated a book, The “Fishy” Problem, to Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) with this inscription: “Thank you for keeping our water clean and healthy!”

Written and illustrated by Mrs. Reha’s students at East Elementary School, the story begins with “Once upon a time, there were very healthy animals in a nice clean river.”  As the story unfolds, some of the fish get sick from trash and pollutants in the river, so they swim to the surface and pretend to be dead, in the hopes that someone will notice and take corrective action.  “A Water Works person was testing water from the river when he saw the fish floating. He wondered how the fish died.”  The problem was investigated and the story concludes after the pollution and trash has been removed, and the animals once again happily enjoy the clean river, their home.

Bobbi Young, a Customer Service employee and member of DMWW’s Education and Green Teams, attended the first graders’ book dedication ceremony on May 20, 2011, and accepted a copy of the book, which was autographed by the students.

For many years DMWW has focused on educating children, its future consumers.  Eleven years ago the water utility joined with Metro Waste Authority, City of Des Moines Storm Water Utility, and Wastewater Reclamation Authority to form the Urban Environmental Partnership.  The partnership is committed to educating the public and employees about water treatment, watershedprotection, and pollution prevention in the urban environment.  Sixteen environmental education programs are offered for pre-K through 8th grade students.

For more information about water education, check our website,, and click on “Water Education” or contact our Education Specialist at (515) 283-8753 or [email protected]

Posted by: Pat Ripley 1 Comment
Labels: , , Posted in Education, Uncategorized May 23, 2011

15th Annual Iowa Children’s Water Festival

The Iowa Children’s Water Festival is held annually to increase the awareness that everything we do in our daily lives will in some way impact our environment, with a main focus on Iowa’s water resources. Approximately 2,100 fifth-grade students attended the 15th annual Festival on May 12, at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), traveling from as far away as Council Bluffs, Davenport, and Muscatine.

The Water Festival is purposely designed to teach basic science from a fun, interactive perspective, so the students will want to learn and integrate what they see and hear throughout the day into their daily lives.

Fifth grade students are able to understand water concepts while they are still young enough to form their own value system.  Students are scheduled into three classroom presentations, a large game activity, a stage performance, and an exhibit hall. In all they spend approximately 4-5 hours at the Festival. There is also a poetry contest prior to the Festival that allows classes to compete for prizes by writing and submitting a poem around the festival theme.

The Festival would not be possible without contributions from many organizations.  The Iowa Association of Water Agencies (IAWA) has oversight responsibility for the festival. However, the Festival is coordinated by a steering committee with members representing IAWA, Des Moines Water Works, DMACC, Iowa Rural Water Association, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, IA Section-American Water Works Association, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the US Department of Agriculture. In addition, each year there are approximately 40 classroom presentations, 20 exhibitors, and 200 volunteers who make the Festival possible.  Many local and national organizations contribute generous in-kind donations and monetary donations. The Festival is very grateful for these contributors.

The Festival has been the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, Iowa Academy of Science; Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Award, Special Recognition in Water Quality; Outstanding Water Resources Educator Award, Iowa State University Water Resources Research Institute; and “Ding” Darling Environmental Education Award For Outstanding Environmental Education Program, Iowa Association of Naturalists Iowa Conservation Education Council.

Here are a couple responses from teachers who attended the 2011 Festival:

Sally Oldham, IA Christian Academy:  “Our 1st year, how fun, well worth the drive. Great day! Very organized, Thankful for the guides! Wonderful field trip to participate in. Thank you!”

Lindsay Schroeder, Kirkwood Elementary: “So well organized, great volunteers, variety of activities, love the shirts and other ‘stuff’, sure hope we can come back next year! Thank you for doing this! I just can’t put into words how much our students loved the day. Our guide was great!”

Interested in learning how your classroom can participate?  Each fall, registration information is sent to all fifth grade teachers in Iowa. Information is also posted on the Festival website,

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Education, Environment May 19, 2011

What’s Happening in Water Works Park?

Not only is Water Works Park a popular spot for walks, bike rides, weddings, and family gatherings, it’s also the venue for many organized events such as concerts, marathons and the annual Jolly Holiday Lights display.

On May 14, Hy-Vee hosted the 10th annual Kids Fishing Derby in the park.  Rain, mud and cold temps didn’t stop people from enjoying the event.  An estimated crowd of 10,000-12,000 people were in attendance.  This year $50,000 was raised for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa, bringing the total donations over the 10-year period to $773,000. 

The large event field in the western portion of the park will be the site of the Summer Jam on Saturday, June 25, and the Big Country Bash on Sunday, June 26.  The crowd size is expected to range from 5,000 people at the rock concert to over 20,000 for the country show.   

Park hours are 6:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. daily.  Park Police Officers are available for emergencies and other park-related questions or concerns.  The morning officer can be reached at (515) 208-1900 and the afternoon officer can be reached at (515) 208-1872.

Contact Des Moines Water Works staff at (515) 283-8752 for shelter and park reservations or arboretum donations.  The donor tree program has been suspended; however donations can still be made to the Park Fund that helps maintain the collection of trees and plants.

Posted by: Scott Atzen No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Des Moines Water Works Park, Parks May 16, 2011

Des Moines Water Works Offers Language Line Services

Des Moines Water Works valora la diversidad y se complace en servir a una población diversa de clientes en el área metropolitana de Des Moines. Nuestros clientes son muy importantes para nosotros, y es fundamental que nuestros clientes se sientan cómodos comunicándose con nosotros. Estamos tratando de mejorar en la forma en que nos comunicamos, y se han traducido algunas de nuestras piezas de comunicación con el cliente en español. Si bien estos esfuerzos son en curso, estamos orgullosos de que por muchos años, de Des Moines Water Works ha ofrecido servicios de traducción para los clientes que no hablan Inglés. Los clientes pueden llamar al Servicio al Cliente al (515) 283-8700 y simplemente informar al representante que no hablan Inglés. El Representante de Servicio al Cliente determina el idioma que hablen y se establece una llamada de conferencia a tres bandas con el cliente y el proveedor de servicios de nuestra traducción, Language Line Services. Language Line Services es un servicio de traducción que ofrece más de 140 diferentes idiomas y está disponible las 24 horas del día, 7 días a la semana. Los clientes que visiten la oficina en persona también podrá hacer uso de este servicio. DMWW utiliza Language Line Services 40-70 veces por mes, con la contabilidad de las traducciones Inglés-Español para más del 95% de las llamadas.


Des Moines Water Works values diversity and is pleased to serve a diverse customer population in the Des Moines metro area.  Our customers are very important to us, and it’s critical that our customers feel comfortable communicating with us.  We are trying to improve in the way we communicate, and have translated some of our customer communication pieces into Spanish.  While these efforts are ongoing, we are proud that for many years, Des Moines Water Works has offered translation services for our non-English speaking customers.  Customers may call Customer Service at (515) 283-8700 and simply advise the representative that they do not speak English.  The Customer Service Representative determines what language they speak and establishes a three-way conference call with the customer and our translation services provider, Language Line Services.  Language Line Services is a translation service that offers over 140 different languages and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Customers visiting the office in person may also take advantage of this service.   DMWW utilizes Language Line Services 40-70 times per month, with English-Spanish translations accounting for over 95% of the calls.

Posted by: Amy Kahler No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers May 10, 2011

Spring Gardening Tips from DMWW’s Gardeners

May is a wonderful time for spring gardening.  There are numerous activities that can be done around the yard.

  • Take a tour of your garden to see which plants have survived over the winter months.  Replacement plants may be needed for those that did not survive.
  • Divide perennials that are becoming overgrown from the previous year.  Daylilies, hostas and perennial grasses are a few that grow very aggressively. 
  • Prune back spent blooms on any bulbs including daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, etc.  As the plant’s foliage begins to yellow and brown, it can be cut off and removed from the plant.
  • Add a layer of 2-4” of mulch in perennial beds, around shrubs, and trees.  A thick layer of mulch protects the plant by keeping the roots cool, blocking weeds, and keeping moisture around the plant. 
  • Make sure to take time for plant shopping this month.  Greenhouses are loaded with beautiful annuals and perennials.  Don’t forget to wait until the frost free date of May 10 for planting most annuals. 
  • Containers and pots can be designed with various combinations of annuals and perennials.
  • Till the vegetable garden plots and begin planting summer crops including tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.  after May 10 as well.
  • And lastly, WEED, WEED, WEED!  Get an early start on weeding.  Weeds are growing just as quickly as the flowers in your garden. 
Posted by: Dawn Goodrich 1 Comment
Labels: , , , Posted in Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Water Works Park, Uncategorized May 9, 2011

Fire Hydrant Color Coding and Maintenance

Have you ever wondered why the bonnets (the top portion) of fire hydrants in Des Moines are painted different colors?

Every fire hydrant in Des Moines is color coded to indicate how much water is available from that hydrant for fire fighting.  The bonnet is painted a specific color in accordance with National Fire Prevention Association Standard 291.  This color coding allows fire fighters to quickly determine which hydrants in a given area will provide the best flow of water for fighting a fire.  The different colors represent the flow available from the hydrant in gallons per minute.  The color codes used in Des Moines are as follows:

  • Red = 0 to 500 gallons per minute
  • Orange = 500 to 1,000 gallons per minute
  • Green = more than 1,000 gallons per minute

Des Moines Water Works owns and maintains almost 10,000 fire hydrants in Des Moines and  surrounding communities.  Each of the hydrants receives regular maintenance including an annual check every fall to ensure the hydrant has not been damaged and is not standing full of water that could freeze during the winter months, rendering the hydrant unusable in the event of an emergency.  In addition, every fire hydrant receives more thorough maintenance every two to three years to ensure the moving parts are well lubricated and in proper working order.

Fire hydrants are actually used more frequently for water system maintenance than for fire fighting.  Any time maintenance is performed on the water system, air is allowed to escape from the pipes through the hydrant, and water is flushed from the hydrant to ensure water delivered to customers following maintenance is clear.

Posted by: Ted Corrigan 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Value of Water, Water Quality May 4, 2011

Des Moines Water Works’ Third Treatment Plant is Operational

      In celebration of National Drinking Water Week, on May 3 the Des Moines Water Works Board of Trustees and staff hosted Des Moines and metro area community leaders at an official start-up of the new water treatment facility located on NW 26th Street.  

      DMWW’s third treatment plant was commissioned in response to the growing water demand in the northern portion of the Des Moines metropolitan area.  The treatment process at the new facility utilizes membrane technology to soften and purify the finished water.  This is DMWW’s first membrane treatment plant and the largest such facility in Iowa.  The plant will have an initial capacity of 10 million gallons per day (mgd) and can be expanded to 20 mgd.

      DMWW values our partnership with the following communities who have purchased capacity and invested in DMWW’s Core Network, which includes the newly commissioned Saylorville Water Treatment Plant.   

  • Altoona
  • Ankeny
  • Berwick
  • Bondurant
  • Clive
  • Cumming
  • Norwalk
  • Pleasant Hill
  • Polk City
  • Polk County Water District #1
  • Urbandale Water Utility
  • Warren Rural Water
  • Waukee
  • West Des Moines Water Works
  • Xenia Rural Water
Posted by: Laura Sarcone 3 Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Saylorville Water Treatment Plant, Uncategorized, Value of Water, Water Treatment May 4, 2011

Crabapple Trees in Water Works Park are in Full Bloom

Don’t miss this year’s spectacular display of flowering crabapple trees in the Arie den Boer Arboretum in Water Works Park.  Whether you walk or drive through the arboretum, you will definitely enjoy the fragrant, brilliant blooms in various shades of pink, lavender, purple, and white.  The moderate snowfall last winter, coupled by the cooler temperatures in early spring, has provided the perfect combination for an outstanding display, according to Scott Atzen, Grounds Supervisor.  Depending upon weather conditions, the peak bloom period is expected to last through the second week of May.

Established in 1930 by the late Arie den Boer, a renowned horticulturalist, the arboretum contains more than 1,200 trees and 350 varieties, and is one of the world’s largest collections of crabapple trees.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Des Moines Water Works Park, Parks May 2, 2011

Mayor Cownie Proclaims National Drinking Water Week

      On behalf of the City Council and the Citizens of Des Moines, Mayor T. M. Franklin Cownie proclaimed May 1-7 as National Drinking Water Week at the April 25 City Council meeting.  The proclamation states that not only is water our most valuable natural resource, but only tap water delivers public health protection, fire protection, support for our economy and the quality of life we enjoy. 

       “A safe, reliable water supply is essential to the success of any community. Any measure of a successful society – low mortality rates, economic growth and diversity, productivity, and public safety – are in some way related to access to safe, reliable quality drinking water,” said Randy Beavers, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works.

      The proclamation also calls upon all citizens to acquaint themselves with the issues involved in providing safe, clean and reliable drinking water to our public and recognize the contributions Des Moines Water Works utility professionals make every day to the health, safety, comfort and quality of life for citizens.

      “The importance of water is too often taken for granted.  Water is essential for life and is needed by everyone,” said Beavers. “It’s the first ingredient in nearly every product we use, a vital element of our daily lives and it’s the original source for refreshment and hydration.”

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , Posted in Value of Water, Water Treatment