Archive for September, 2012

September 24, 2012

A Day in the Life of: Control Center Operator

Des Moines Water Works has been providing safe drinking water to Des Moines since 1871. Today, Des Moines Water Works serves approximately 500,000 people throughout the Des Moines metro area. Few people realize the importance of providing citizens with safe and reliable drinking water. Like police officers, fire fighters, and other emergency personal that work to keep our cities safe, proper water operators are needed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to ensure public health in central Iowa.

At Des Moines Water Works, there is a Control Center Operator always on duty managing the treatment of the water at all three of Des Moines Water Works’ treatment plants. They also monitor and control the distribution system, which includes 10 pumping stations, 12 booster stations, and 25 water towers throughout the Des Moines metro area.

Depending on the time of day, the priorities of the operator varies. Operators that work the day shift perform numerous processes for cleaning water and replenishing the distribution system.  The evening shift operator’s goal is to monitor the distribution system to keep it regulated. The overnight operator focuses on refilling the water towers for the morning rush.

The peak demand for water is usually Monday-Friday from 5:00 am to 10:00 am. The demand will then pick back up during the evening when people get home from work. During the summer, the demand is also high towards the end of the evening when businesses and homeowners typically irrigate lawns. It is important to keep water storage facilities filled for optimal water pressure throughout the distribution system and for use during fire fighting.

The day shift operator also manages chemical deliveries at three treatment plants, which is done remotely from the control center at the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant. There may also be requests from other utility employees related to maintenance of the treatment plants. The overnight shift operator’s responsibility is to prepare the treatment plants for the next day, such as updating all of the logs.

To handle all that needs to be taken care of, Control Center Operators must be able to prioritize all of the requests and duties that they face each shift. They must be able to multitask and handle an emergency in a calm manor.  Each shift is different than the one before, but Des Moines Water Works Control Center Operators understand that their role is vital to the health of residents of Des Moines and surrounding areas.

Posted by: Terilee H. Clark No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Employees September 19, 2012

Greater Des Moines Garden Transformation

In a few months, the Des Moines Botanical Center, an iconic fixture in the Des Moines landscape, will begin to transform to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Under the care and management of Des Moines Water Works since 2004, the Garden’s management will transition to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a 501(c)3 nonprofit  on January 1, 2013.

Over the course of the summer, the City of Des Moines has relined the sanitary sewer between the University Avenue and I-235 bridges in preparation for the transformation of the facility. The City has also been in the process of relocating and enhancing the John Pat Dorrian Bike Trail in the Botanical Garden’s vicinity. The new trail will have riverside views and the benefit of a 10-foot-wide trail and generous shoulders. The bike trail will be completed later this year.

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s phase one improvements to the facility will be underway from early 2013 through late summer 2014, in order to plant the expanded landscape at the most optimal time for the plants. The building improvements will include a new café overlooking a terrace and water garden, a new garden shop and reconfigured lobby, an office suite for the staff, and upgraded meeting and rental spaces.  The phase one exterior additions will include a shade tree allee, a celebration event lawn surrounded by gardens, a water garden and a series of specialty gardens. The expanded landscape will have a diverse plant palette and year-round interest.

During the transformation, the geodesic domed conservatory will remain open from January-June 2013. From July through the early part of September, the facility will be closed to the public as the garden’s interior and exteriors are transformed.

Be sure to mark your calendars for some of the beloved programs that you have grown to anticipate including:  A Celebration of Champagne and Chocolate on November 16, 6:00-8:00 pm; Botanical Blues from 1:00-3:00 pm, every Sunday in January and February; Learn on Saturday Lectures from 10:00 am-12:00 pm every Saturday in January, February and March; along with seasonal floral displays, and so much more.

If you are interested in supporting the transformations of the Botanical Garden or becoming a member of the Garden, please contact the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s Membership and Development Manger, Amanda Jordan at (515) 323-6265 or [email protected].

Posted by: Stephanie Jutila 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in Des Moines Botanical Center, Parks September 12, 2012

Des Moines’ Hidden Gem: Maffitt Reservoir Park

In 1935, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) started to consider storing Raccoon River water as an alternative water source when river levels were low.  Following substantial drought conditions in 1939 and 1940, DMWW identified a sight for construction of a reservoir.

In 1942, Neumann Brothers Construction of Des Moines received the bid and surveying and construction began immediately.  With the assistance of DMWW’s Grounds staff, Neumann completed construction of the lake and dam nearly a year and a half later.  It was named the Dale Maffitt Reservoir in honor of the then General Manager of Des Moines Water Works.  In 2000, DMWW began operating the L. D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir in effort to produce enough water for Des Moines and surrounding areas’ growing population.

In addition to the land used for the lake itself, DMWW purchased hundreds of acres surrounding the lake, in an effort to protect the watershed and ultimately the drinking water to the best of its ability.  Today, Des Moines Water Works owns and maintains nearly 1,500 acres in and around the reservoir and river.

The park is a nature lovers dream. Fishing, picnicking, and hiking are favorite pastimes at Maffitt Reservoir. For the general public’s convenience, several docks that extend nearly 20 feet into the lake are located along the shore. A nature trail of approximately 4.5 miles leads hikers around the lake.

In 2001, DMWW constructed permanent restrooms, installed wild flower areas and seal coated the park roads.  Dale Maffitt Reservoir and Park is truly a hidden gem in the Des Moines area.

Maffitt Reservoir Park is located southwest of Des Moines – take Army Post Road west, across Interstate 35 and follow the signs.

Maffitt Reservoir Park hours are 7:00 am-8:00 pm (Standard Time) and 6:00 am-9:00 pm (Daylight Savings Time). For a complete list of park rules and regulations, visit

Photo by Christopher A. Knisley – Freelance Wildlife Photographer

Posted by: Scott Atzen 3 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in History, Maffitt Reservoir, Parks, Source Water September 6, 2012

The Old White Barn in Water Works Park

A recognizable landmark in Water Works Park is the weathered white barn just northwest of the general office building. The old barn is probably most well-known for serving as a rustic backdrop for numerous photo shoots over the years.

The barn was built around 1900 to shelter the horses that were owned by the water utility for farming operations. In those days, crops of wheat, alfalfa, corn, timothy, and clover were grown on the water supply grounds.  In 1924, farming operations were discontinued on the grounds, so most of the horses and farm equipment were sold, retaining only those necessary for maintenance of the grounds.

Most recently, Water Works Park maintenance equipment has been stored in the barn and it is now the home to a large number of bats and mice.

Questions have been received from the public about the 100+-year old barn which has had its share of flood damage.  Originally, plans had been to renovate it, but several years ago it was discovered that the barn has suffered significant termite damage that precludes putting any money into it.  It is hoped that approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can be received to relocate a section of the earthen levee near the barn and grounds shop building making room for new Water Works Park maintenance facilities on the dry side of the levee, and the current barn and shop building would be dismantled, with as much of the material salvaged as possible.

Posted by: Pat Ripley No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Flooding, History, Parks September 3, 2012

A Day in the Life of: Water Works Park Police Officer

Meet Dean.  Dean is a Des Moines Water Works Park Police Officer and has been helping visitors of Water Works Park for over six years.  Park Police Officers keep Water Works Park safe for patrons and address any questions or concerns that visitors may have. But that isn’t all that they do.

The officers also provide security for the park at Maffitt Reservoir and other Des Moines Water Works facilities – including water towers and storage facilities located throughout the Des Moines metro area. They also respond to alarms or suspicious activity that may occur at Des Moines Water Works operated facilities.

Many organizations – Make-a-Wish Foundation’s Jolly Holiday Lights and HyVee Fishing Derby, to name a few – hold their events at Water Works Park, and the Park Officers assist with making each event safe and successful.

Des Moines Water Works Park Officers have been employed as police officers, so they are able to respond and provide assistance to incidents that may occur, such as assaults, car chases, lost people and pets. Citizens can also contact a Park Officer about a complaint or suspicious activity at a Des Moines Water Works facility or property.

Dean sees a lot of traffic – walkers/joggers, cars and bus tours – at Water Works Park during the spring, especially the weeks of the annual crabapple bloom in the Arie den Boer Arboretum.  He also enjoys seeing the horseback riders on the bridle trail – a unique sight to see inside the city, as well as the many personal events, like wedding ceremonies and family reunions.

Water Works Park hours are 6:00 am-10:00 pm. Maffitt Reservoir Park hours are 7:00 am-8:00 pm (Standard Time) and 6:00 am-9:00 pm (Daylight Savings Time). For a complete list of park rules and regulations, visit

Posted by: Terilee H. Clark No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Employees, Parks