Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

January 17, 2012

Year in Review

From starting up our third treatment plant to educating more than 27,000 children and adults, here’s a look at the top 25 accomplishments in 2011 at Des Moines Water Works.

  1. Commissioned DMWW’s third water treatment facility, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant
  2. Responded to 300 main breaks
  3. Assisted 56,000 customers in the office and visited 42,000 customers in the field
  4. Launched Parkitecture competition for the redesign of Water Works Park
  5. Repaved roads in Water Works Park
  6. Hosted several events at Water Works Park, including HyVee Fishing Derby, Big Country Bash, weddings, charity walks, Des Moines Marathon and Jolly Holiday Lights
  7. Planted approximately 70,000 plants and flowers in Water Works Park and Fleur Drive medians
  8. Found $611,000 in process efficiencies throughout the utility
  9. Reaffirmed  our strong Aa1 bond rating by Moody’s, second from highest attainable
  10. Redesigned new website with enhanced customer features, like consumption alerts
  11. Implemented electronic checks as a new customer payment option
  12. Awarded “Public Policy Champion of the Year” from Iowa Ducks Unlimited
  13. Implemented new Geographical Information System (GIS):  DMWW’s water distribution staff is now using new GIS software that allows access of important information about the distribution system while working in the field.
  14. Established Enterprise Asset Management software:  Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) at its most basic level is a work order system.  But as an asset management software, EAM is a lot more than that.  Asset management goes beyond creating work orders and includes planning and scheduling projects, tracking assets’ conditions, and forecasting asset replacement. 
  15. Ended use of gaseous chlorine at all facilities:  All water disinfection throughout the utility (three plants and six remote locations) is now being done with liquid hypochlorite.  This effort brings a safer environment for our employees and community.
  16. Reported our greenhouse gas emissions to The Climate Registry
  17. Contributed $19,286.28 to the United Way of Central Iowa through employee donations – a record year!
  18. Reduced employees’ metabolic syndrome risk factors by 18% from 2010 to 2011
  19. Awarded two safety recognition awards
  20. Received a Proclamation from Mayor Cownie during Drinking Water Week, recognizing DMWW’s contributions to the community
  21. Assisted DMACC with a new water/waste water curriculum
  22. Received a book and dedication from Ankeny first graders illustrating the importance of clean rivers
  23. Celebrated the importance of water with over 2,000 Iowa 5th grade students at the Iowa Children’s Water Festival
  24. Reached 27,800 people through classroom presentations, tours and special events conducted by the Urban Environmental Partnership.
  25. Hosted 237 meetings/social events and 53 weddings at the Des Moines Botanical Center, including 10 weddings on 11/11/11! The Botanical Center also welcomed 255 tour groups for a total of 9,560 people
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Botanical Center, Customer Service, Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Water Works Park, Education, Employees, Environment, Parks, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant December 21, 2011

Water 101: How Much Do You Know About H2O?

Take this quiz to find out how much you know about H2O!

1.  What percent of the earth’s surface is water?
a. about 50%  
b. about 75%  
c. about 97%
2.  Of all the water on earth, how much is available to use for drinking water?
a. 25%             
b. 3%              
c. 1%

3.  About how much does one gallon of water weigh? 
a. 4 lbs.  
b. 8 lbs.   
c. 10 lbs.

4.  What two rivers does Des Moines Water Works use to make drinking water?
a. Des Moines and Skunk 
b. Raccoon and Iowa 
c. Des Moines and Raccoon

5.  What is the longest a human could live without water?
a. one day  
b. one week  
c. one month

6.  About how much of the human body is water?
a. 95%   
b. 80%   
c. 65%

7.  What uses the most water in households each day?
a. laundry  
b. showers  
c. flushing the toilet

8.  What percent of water in homes is used for drinking purposes?
a. 2%   
b. 10%   
c. 20% 

9.  What is the longest river in the world?
a. Mississippi
b. Amazon  
c. Nile

10.  How thick does ice have to be to hold an average-sized human?
a. 2”   
b. 4”   
c. 6”

11.  About how many gallons of water will run down the drain if you leave a faucet on for one minute?
a. 5   
b. 3   
c. 8 

12.  How many gallons of water does the average American use for a five-minute shower? 
a. 20   
b. 30   
c. 40

13.   How much water does it take to make a can of pop? 
a. 1 gallon  
b. 5 gallons  
c. 10 gallons  

14.   What makes hard water “hard?”
a.  Low temperatures 
b. minerals 
c. heat and pressure 

15.  The gradual wearing away of soil by water is called __________.
a. combustion  
b. precipitation  
c. erosion

1. b
2. c
3. b
4. c
5. b
6. c
7. c
8. a
9. c
10. b
11. a
12. b
13. c
14. b
15. c

Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Education September 9, 2011

Love Where You Live!

Love Where You Live” is the theme for this year’s environmental education programs offered through Des Moines Water Works and the Urban Environmental Partnership (UEP). 

Did you know the UEP offers 16 FREE presentations on topics like drinking water treatment, waste water treatment, the water cycle, understanding watersheds, water’s link to health, recycling and waste reduction, and water pollution and prevention?  All metro area elementary and middle school science teachers receive a brochure at the beginning of the school year that describes these programs. Most of the programs are geared for K-12, but the UEP also gives adult programs on the same environmental topics and schedule tours of Des Moines Water Works, Metro Waste Authority’s Metro Park East Landfill and the Waste Water Reclamation Facility.

To schedule a presentation or tour, contact Gail Peckumn at [email protected]. For more contact information and descriptions of the presentations, check out the program brochure at – click on Water Education.

When we all learn to take care of the world around us, we will all Love Where We Live!

Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Education, Environment August 31, 2011

Encourage Recycling at Home

Recycling has been part of the daily routine for most families for over 15 years.  If your family isn’t on board yet, the good news is that it’s never too late to start!  You just need a recycling container or a convenient drop-off site and a little time to educate the family on what can and can’t be recycled. Making sure the recyclable items are clean and dry before they go in the container is important as well.  

Most likely, your school-age children can recycle at school, too, so chances are good that the youngsters in our communities will grow up with the recycling habit. They learn that waste paper, cardboard, metal, plastic and glass aren’t always “garbage” but can be a resource for reuse.  

There are so many reasons to recycle!  We can preserve natural resources, save space at our local landfill and reduce energy usage and pollution in the “re-manufacturing” process.  We also want to encourage the purchasing of recycled materials.  Many school supplies – pencils, paper, folders and back packs, to name a few – are often made from recycled materials. Companies that sell items containing recycled content are proud to do so, and that information can be found on the packaging if we just take an extra moment to look.


Mary Gillaspey is the Education Specialist at Metro Waste Authority. Des Moines Water Works and Metro Waste Authority partner together for the Urban Environmental Partnership.  The Partnership offers classroom programs and tours to the metro area.

Posted by: Mary Gillaspey No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , Posted in Education, Environment June 15, 2011

Garden Hose . . . Friend or Foe?

Ahhhhhhh, remember the hot summer days as a kid when you’d quench your thirst by getting a drink from the garden hose?  You may have heard in your adult years that this isn’t such a good idea.  The reasoning behind this is that many garden hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which uses lead as a stabilizer.  When water sits in a PVC hose, lead can leach into the water in concentrations that, according to tests conducted by Consumer Reports, can reach 10 to 100 times the allowable lead levels.  PVC hoses often carry a warning to consumers but unfortunately they are often printed in a microscopic font or on the underside of the label.  Lead is a huge health threat that is particularly hazardous for children under the age of six. 

The impact of watering gardens with lead-laced water on a regular basis is questionable.  Plants don’t generally absorb lead unless there is a high concentration of it in the soil. 

The good news is you can buy hoses that are lead free.  They are made with FDA-approved materials and are labeled “drink-safe,” or “safe for potable water”.   And remember, even if you have a “drink-safe” hose, let the water run until it’s cold before you drink from it, because bacteria can grow in warm standing water.

Posted by: Bobbi Young No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Education, Health, Water Quality June 13, 2011

Call Before You Dig

Do you have projects requiring digging in your yard?  Before you dig, be sure to include the most important step in your project plans: contact Iowa One Call.  

Iowa One Call services are free and telephones are answered 24 hours a day.  Utilities, including Des Moines Water Works, have 48 hours following a request to locate any underground facilities they have in the area and mark their location with flags or painted lines.  After the excavation area has been marked, you will be able to avoid any underground services, preventing a loss of vital services and added expenses for repairs.

Iowa law applies to professional contractors as well as homeowners, and encompasses a wide array of outdoor projects including:

  • Installing a fence
  • Planting trees or shrubs
  • Building a patio, addition, deck, garage, outdoor shed or any similar structure that requires any form of digging
  • Putting in a new driveway
  • Installing a septic system or water drainage system
  • Terracing or landscaping

Call 811 or 1-800-292-8989 before you dig.  It’s fast, it’s free, it’s the law!  You can also access important information at

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , Posted in Education June 8, 2011

Water Safety

Water is a necessity and nothing is more convenient than having clean, safe Des Moines Water Works tap water straight from the faucet.  However, water related accidents do happen.  Follow these safety reminders to help keep your family safe from water accidents:

• Water spills on slick floor surfaces can cause someone to slip and fall.  Be sure to wipe up spills right away.  Keep people (and pets!) away from freshly mopped floors.

• Small children should never be left alone in bath water, not even for a minute.  Children can drown from less than an inch of water.  Do not allow distractions such as the doorbell or telephone to take you away from a small child who is bathing.

• Water and electricity do not mix.  Do not put electrical appliances near standing water.

• Do not let unattended children play near pools, ponds or streams. Residences with pools are required to have fences and homeowners should keep doors and gates locked when the pool is not in use.

• Turn the water heater down so that hot water from the faucet cannot cause burns or you may want to investigate the possibility of installing a scald control faucet.  However, it is important to keep the water temperature at 130 degrees Fahrenheit to stifle bacteria growth in the water heater.

• Do not walk away from a stove that has boiling liquids.  Keep pan handles turned so they cannot be pulled down by a small child.

• If your child has a plastic wading pool, be sure to drain it and store it in an upright position after each use.  Do not allow children to play in wading pools unsupervised.

• Check your water turn-off valves.  Know how to use them in the case of an emergency.

• Periodically check your pipes for drips, plugs and leaks – before it becomes a bigger problem!  If in doubt, seek a licensed professional for plumbing work.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Education 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 January 27, 2011

Water Works Treatment Process

How does water get from the river to your faucet? Follow the journey as Des Moines Water Works explains in this treatment process video on YouTube!

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Education, Fluoride, Water Treatment