Archive for May, 2013

May 31, 2013

2013 Consumer Confidence Report


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

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.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Water Quality May 23, 2013

Managed Irrigation Requested, Even as Drought Conditions throughout Central Iowa Improve

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.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customer Service, Customers, Water Quality May 16, 2013

Customers Pay When Others Pollute

In response to Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s environmental policy adviser, Rick Robinson’s “State Rules Wouldn’t Fix Nitrates” letter to The Des Moines Register on May 13.

Nitrate Removal FacilityThanks to a capital investment made years ago and the dedicated work of our employees Des Moines Water Works continues to meet the needs of the 500,000 customers in the twenty communities we serve. However, the extreme levels of nitrates found in our water supply this year poses a significant threat to our customers. We feel it is time for Iowans to engage in a serious discussion about this growing problem.

Nitrate levels in both the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nitrate standard (10 mg/l – determined as the level protective of public health) this spring. There were more nitrates in those rivers last week than there were all of last year combined.

Des Moines Water Works relies primarily on the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers as sources for Central Iowa’s drinking water. Because unprecedented nitrate levels have affected both rivers concurrently, Des Moines Water Works activated its Nitrate Removal Facility last Friday to keep finished drinking water below EPA standards. This facility, constructed in 1992 for $3.6 million, costs $7,000 per day to operate. Ratepayers fund the cost of constructing, maintaining and operating this facility.

We agree with one thing Rick Robinson of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation wrote, “if we all do our part – farmers, homeowners, businesses and communities – we will have a positive impact on Iowa’s watershed.” Where we diverge is that we do not believe everyone is doing their part to protect Iowa’s waterways.

Des Moines Water Works had the foresight to build a denitrification facility. DMWW has not had to operate it since 2007, but this is largely because DMWW has invested millions of additional dollars in additional treatment options to provide denitrification since 2007. It is misleading for a person to suggest the denitrification facility’s lack of use during recent years is proof nitrate levels have been lower than they have been in past years. DMWW has been able to avoid the costly operation of the facility because of other actions and investments it has made.

The heart of Des Moines Water Works’ mission is protecting public health. We can no longer work quietly while source waters continue to be severely polluted by upstream land practices. This should not be a sterile discussion influenced only by data and statistics—although ample alarming data and statistics exist. Nitrates pose serious health risks. It is increasingly costly for Des Moines Water Works to remove nitrates through treatment processes to meet necessary EPA standards.

There is simply no disputing surface water is significantly impacted by certain types of land use – the primary land uses in our upstream watersheds are agricultural related. Chemical fertilizers applied to fields are exacerbated by field drainage tiles, allowing run off to reach rivers and streams quickly and without the benefit of natural filtration and, this year, plant uptake.

In addition to exceptional levels of nitrates, high levels of ammonia and phosphorus, algae blooms, and increasing levels of bacteria are all deteriorating water quality in Iowa. The recently published Nutrient Reduction Strategy supported by many prominent State leaders, including Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land StewardshipIowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Governor’s office, is inadequate in that it lacks regulation, goals, measurable outcomes, or timelines for reducing agricultural (non-point) discharges. We advocate regulation through EPA-endorsed numeric standards by watershed—an approach with local emphasis that considers the current state of each watershed and does not force a one-size-fits-all approach.

Facing the reality of the degrading water quality and open meaningful discussion to identify solutions is long overdue.

Iowans should demand state leaders address improving and protecting owa’s water sources. State funding to support monitoring of nitrate pollutants should not be stripped away from the flood center of Iowa, an objective guardian if Iowa’s rivers and streams. Without significant action, Des Moines Water Works will be forced to continue treating degraded source waters, and our customers will continue to pay for that extensive treatment in their rates. With bold and innovative action, Des Moines Water Works believes healthy source waters and agriculture can co-exist. They must—both are critical to Iowa’s future.

Respectfully Submitted,

Water Works Board of Trustees:

Graham Gillette, Chair

David A. Carlson, Vice Chair

Leslie A. Gearhart, Trustee

Susan R. Huppert, Trustee

Marc R. Wallace, Trustee


William G. Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO & General Manager

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Source Water, Water Quality May 13, 2013

Crabapples in Bloom at Water Works Park

Water Works Park CrabappleOne of the world’s largest collections of flowering crabapple trees can be found at Water Works Park, and will be in full bloom this week.  Visitors may drive or walk through the Arie den Boer Arboretum between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. to view the colorful display of 1,200 crabapple trees, located in the northeast corner of Water Works Park, off of Fleur Drive.

The Arie den Boer Arboretum was established in 1930, and contains over 350 varieties of flowering crabapple trees, including some varieties that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Des Moines Water Works Park, Parks May 13, 2013

Water Service Line Coverage FAQ

Des Moines Water Works is pleased to offer a low-cost water service line coverage program now available through HomeServe. This coverage offers protection for water service line breaks for single-family residents in the City of Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works’ total service areas. This program is voluntary and offers customers additional choices. The decision to participate is entirely yours.

QHomeServe DMWW Coverage: What am I responsible for?
A:  As a homeowner, you are responsible for your water service line, from Des Moines Water Works water main to the water meter inside your home. The decision to insure this risk is entirely yours.

Q: How does the coverage plan work?
A:  Step 1:  In the event of a home emergency, just call HomeServe toll-free at 1-855-695-1493.
Step 2:  A local, licensed and insured plumber will be dispatched to your home to make your repair or replacement.
Step 3:  Once covered repairs are completed, just sign the repair form and HomeServe pays the plumber directly for you.

Q: What is included in the Water Service Line Coverage Plan?
A:  You will be covered for qualified costs to repair or replace the broken or leaking exterior water service line, from the water meter inside your home to the Des Moines Water Works water main, including the cost to repair the exterior shut-off valve. This includes all service call charges, labor and materials for covered repairs, and basic restoration – so you’ll have no bill to pay for covered repairs. HomeServe coverage also covers situations where a customer’s meter is located in an outside meter pit, covering the line from DMWW’s main to the point where the line enters the building.

Q: How much does it cost and where do I send my payment?
A:  The coverage costs $4.99 a month. Customers who sign up will be billed directly on their monthly Des Moines Water Works bill.

Q: How can I obtain more information and/or purchase the HomeServe policy?
A:  You can contact HomeServe directly at 1-855-695-1493 or visit Des Moines Water Works’ HomeServe page.

Posted by: Amy Kahler 2 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers May 7, 2013

Over 2,000 Iowa Students Celebrate Water at Iowa Children’s Water Festival

Iowa Children's Water FestivalOver 2,000 fifth grade students from 40 schools across the state of Iowa will celebrate water at the 17th Annual Iowa Children’s Water Festival. The Water Festival is a free, fun, instructive day filled with opportunities to educate and celebrate Iowa’s most valuable resource – water. All activities will be held on the Des Moines Area Community College-Ankeny Campus on Thursday, May 9, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m.

The Iowa Children’s Water Festival is designed as an opportunity for students to enjoy a fun-filled day while learning all aspects of water – including water quality, wise-water usage practices, safety and recreation. Students participate in hands-on learning activities, presented by a variety of water professionals, representing government agencies, environmental organizations, higher education and private businesses.

“Students participate in various activities that engages and empowers them to protect Iowa’s water resources,” said Laura Sarcone, Festival Coordinator. “Before they realize it, students are talking about aquifers, surface waters, run-off, watersheds, the water cycle and more.”

The Iowa Children’s Water Festival is sponsored by Iowa Association of Water Agencies (IAWA) and coordinated by several local and state agencies, including Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa DNR, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Iowa Rural Water Association and West Des Moines Water Works.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Education May 2, 2013

Get Healthy and Happy Outdoors Today!

Healthy&HappyOutdoorsIf you’re looking for a way to get healthier, a new program from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in partnership with Des Moines Water Works and several Iowa organizations, provides you resources and recognition for spending more time outdoors.

The Healthy & Happy Outdoors initiative, or H2O, connects you to Iowa’s natural resources and helps you enjoy an active lifestyle.

It’s easy to get started:

  1. Register online at
  2. Get outside. Log your outdoor recreation activities on the H2O website.
  3. Need some recommendations? Find more than 1,600 recreation locations across the state in an interactive map (including Water Works Park and Maffitt Reservoir Park) along with suggestions for outdoor opportunities you might enjoy.
  4. Win prizes! Each activity you log counts as an entry for regular drawings of outdoor-themed prizes, with a first-year celebration of H2O at the Iowa State Fair in August 2013.

The DNR and the program’s partners aim to have 1,000 participants sign up for H2O in the first year, and 50,000 participants by 2016. Program partners include the Healthiest State Initiative, Des Moines Water Works, Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department of Transportation, and Iowa Tourism Office.

“Our goal is to help Iowans increase mental and physical health through outdoor recreation in Iowa’s natural spaces,” said Chuck Gipp, DNR Director.

The H2O website will continually grow with tips, healthy resources, additional activities and more. You can also help improve the map – if you visit a recreation area not shown on the map, just include it in your activity log and the H2O team will add it.

Des Moines Water Works is pleased to be a part of this exciting initiative. Get healthy and happy outdoors today!

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customers, Environment, Health, Parks