Archive for the ‘Employees’ Category

February 17, 2012

What’s in a Name?

The Arie Den Boer Arboretum, Dale Maffitt Reservoir, Denman Woods . . . have you ever wondered about the history behind the names?  Namesakes of property and facilities owned by Des Moines Water Works include former general managers, Board of Trustees members, and employees whose strategic visions helped the water utility evolve into the industry leader it is today.

Charles Sing Denman’s 37-year career began in 1896 when the water company was privately owned.  He was the first general manager, appointed in 1919, when the water company became municipally owned.  During his tenure, the water system experienced tremendous growth and many of the facilities in use today were constructed under his direction.  As a testament to his love of nature, the western tract of land that extends along both sides of the Raccoon River in Water Works Park was designated as Denman Woods.  A concrete bench was erected in his memory in 1937 inside the Fleur Drive treatment plant, which was moved to its current location at Water Works Park in the late 1970s when the Charles Sing Denman Memorial Garden was dedicated. 

In 1928, Arie den Boer, a horticulturist, was hired to beautify Water Works’ grounds and create a park, which was opened to the public in 1933.  Mr. den Boer introduced several hundred varieties of crabapple trees and won numerous prestigious awards for his work in horticulture.  The crabapple arboretum was named in Mr. den Boer’s honor when he retired in 1961, after serving as grounds superintendent for 33 years.

The water tower at 48th and Hickman is a memorial to Allen Hazen who designed the tower and unexpectedly died in 1930 before construction was completed.  Mr. Hazen was a prominent New York engineer of international reputation and a pioneer in the area of water treatment.   

Dale L. Maffitt was the general manager when 650 acres southwest of Des Moines were purchased in 1942 to construct a dam and water storage reservoir to be used as an emergency water supply.  The 200-acre impounding reservoir and surrounding area was named for Mr. Maffitt after his death in 1955, following 41 years of employment, 22 of which he led the utility as general manager.  

Henry Nollen and Norman Wilchinski were long-term Board of Trustees members, both of whom served on the first water board of 1919.  Two water storage facilities built in 1955 were named after them.  The Nollen Standpipe is at 26th and Hull and the Wilchinski Standpipe is at SE 9th and Pleasantview Drive. 

The Tenny Standpipe at Merle Hay Mall, which was built in 1959, is a tribute to Morris K. Tenny.  A 44-year employee, Mr. Tenny held the positions of chemist and assistant manager, prior to serving as general manager for 13 years.  He was instrumental in the growth of the Water Works.   

Maurice King’s employment with the Water Works spanned nearly 43 years.  The Maurice A. King Intake and Pumping Station facility on the Des Moines River was named after Mr. King who served as General Manager from 1968-1977.

The L.P. Moon Storage and Pumping Station facility was named in recognition of a former long-term Board member, Louise P. Moon.  Located in Clive, this west side facility was placed on-line in 1996.  Ms. Moon currently serves as Windsor Heights’ representative on the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission, of which Des Moines Water Works is a member.

In May of 2000, the Water Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir, a 25 million gallon per day facility, began operation using nine radial collector wells for its main water source, but also drawing from Maffitt Reservoir for additional water resources.  In 2007, it was renamed in honor of L.D. McMullen, a 30-year employee who served as general manager from 1985-2007 and was instrumental in construction of the water treatment plant. 

We are proud of these visionaries and their contributions to Des Moines Water Works and the community.

Posted by: Pat Ripley No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Employees, History, Parks 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 October 18, 2011

Employment Longevity Speaks Highly of DMWW

The average tenure of Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) employees is 15 years.  While that number is definitely something to brag about, an even more impressive statistic is the significant number of employees who have spent the bulk of their careers working for the water utility: 

    • 42 employees have over 25 years of service
    • 17 employees have over 30 years of service
    • 4 employees have over 35 years of service

    And one employee has worked for DMWW for 41 years!  Joann Elrod plans to retire from her position as Customer Service Coordinator this December.  She started working for the utility in 1970 as a file clerk, then a cashier, and has excelled in several other positions, the majority of them being customer service related. 

What has kept Joann at DMWW for over 40 years?  She said it’s the great people she works with and the fact that she has always enjoyed the work she does, noting that there hasn’t been a day where she didn’t learn something new.  She also attributes her employment longevity to the company’s size (approximately 210 employees) where she doesn’t feel like she’s a number.  

Within the next 10 years, 67% of Des Moines Water Works employees will be eligible to retire.  Plans are underway to capture all of this knowledge before it walks out the door.

Are you interested in a career in water?  Des Moines Area Community College began a new water/wastewater curriculum.

Posted by: Pat Ripley 4 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Employees October 10, 2011

New Water/Wastewater Curriculum at DMACC

This fall, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) began offering a new curriculum at its Ankeny campus.  Thanks to a joint effort between an industry-wide committee (including American Water Works Association-IA Section, Iowa Water Environment Association, Iowa Rural Water Association, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources), this new curriculum has been designed to help educate a future workforce to fill the large number of openings expected in the water and wastewater industries due to retirements.

There will be three areas of study: water, wastewater, and a combination water/wastewater embedded in a larger two year AAS Degree industrial program.  There will be three levels of education available; a Degree, a Diploma, and a Certificate of Specialization.  By embedding into a larger industrial program, DMACC won’t have the pressure of keeping numbers of water/wastewater students up in order to keep the program alive (which has been an issue in previous programs across the state).  When the number of students allows it, the water/wastewater program will be offered by other community colleges around the state.

The curriculum will be “in class” and “web-based” to reach both traditional and non-traditional students.  The web-based students will attend one day of concentrated classes a week on campus.  This allows students who are working, to take classes while continuing their employment.  

DMWW assisted DMACC with the program and course design and will assist the instructors with assessment review.  Des Moines Water Works is excited to have this new water/wastewater curriculum available to our employees and future employees.


Posted by: Jenny Puffer 3 Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Employees, Value of Water, Water Treatment September 22, 2011

Do You Have a Spare 12 Minutes?

What can you do in 12 minutes? You could play Angry Birds on your iPhone. You could read and respond to a few emails. You could refill your coffee and chat with a co-worker about the Biggest Loser on TV last night. Or, you could help change the culture of Iowa forever.

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is excited to participate in the “Start Somewhere” Walk at noon on Friday, October 7.  The 1k walk is the kick-off of the five-year Healthiest State Initiative that is intended to inspire Iowans and their communities throughout the state to improve their health and happiness.

Walkers can join DMWW employees at the gazebo in Water Works Park in the Arie den Boer Arboretum in the southeast portion of the park.  Sign up for the walk at  So, if you have a spare 12 minutes, we’ll see you at noon on Friday, October 7, at Water Works Park.

Posted by: Terilee H. Clark No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Employees, Health August 29, 2011

Wellness is “HIP” at DMWW

DMWW is striving to create a culture of health and wellness.  We have been recognized for our achievement in creating a healthy work environment by the Wellness Council of America and the State of Iowa with the Well Workplace Award.  The award recognizes employers that have implemented and demonstrated measurable success in employee wellness programming.  

The Health Improvement Planning Team (HIP) at DMWW is responsible for advocating health in the workplace.  The mission of the team is: To maintain a dynamic workforce, from hire to retire, by creating an environment where employees achieve happy, healthy lifestyles for themselves and their families.  The team plans various activities and educational programs to benefit the employee and their family.  Some of the activities are:

  • Free annual medical screens
  • Employee vegetable garden plots
  • Loaner bicycles for employees to ride on breaks or for transportation between locations.
  • Walking events
  • Walking maps of DMWW park
  • Mid-day stretching break
  • Naturally Slim – lifestyle management program
  • Team exercise competition
  • Loaner bicycles for employees to ride on breaks or for transportation between locations
  • Healthy cooking classes
  • Diabetes and heart disease management and prevention classes
  • Wellness guidance resources
  • Fitness reimbursement
  • Smoking cessation incentives

DMWW will grow our health and wellness culture by continuously meeting and re-evaluating the needs of their employees and their families.

Posted by: Terilee H. Clark No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Employees July 29, 2011

Governor Branstad Signs Proclamation for Iowa’s Water and Wastewater Workers

 All water and wastewater workers in the state of Iowa were recognized by the signing of a proclamation by Governor Terry Branstad on July 28, 2011.  The proclamation is part of a “Water and Wastewater Workers of Iowa” week that is being promoted by four industry groups, including Iowa Section American Water Works Association, Iowa Water Environment Association, Iowa Rural Water Association, and Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, as well as Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  The signing event took place at the Ames Water Pollution Control Facility and was attended by operators from all over the state. 

The proclamation that was signed by the Governor read:

Recognizing that the State of Iowa’s wealth of natural resources has been threatened by the degradation of surface and ground waters, the Water and Wastewater workforce of Iowa have dedicated themselves to applying environmental passion and science to enhance drinking and recreational waters of Iowa. Their applied environmentalism continues to be a vital element in improving the quality of life and preserving and protecting public health in our state; and promoting sustainability in our way of living.

Des Moines Water Works wants to take this opportunity to thank our employees for all that they do for their community each and every day of the year.

Posted by: Jenny Puffer 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Employees, Value of Water April 22, 2011

A Career in Water

When you turn on the water, have you ever given any thought to how it arrived there and who is responsible for it? 

DMWW has over 200 employees who are working to provide customers with water they can trust for life.  Employees realize that their job, no matter the job, plays an important role in the quality of life for everyone in the Des Moines metropolitan region.   

The average tenure of DMWW’s employees is approximately 15 years, reflecting the long term retention of employees and their commitment to the job.  Employees appreciate the variety of benefits that are offered, including health and retirement plans, as well as paid time off.  Teams bring employees together from all departments to assist with balancing employee work and personal life, emphasizing health, safety, environmental stewardship and personal development.

Projections indicate that 40% of employees will be eligible to retire in the next five years.  As a result, DMWW will be looking to hire people who want to take on the responsibility of providing top quality water for which DMWW is respected.  If you are up to the challenge, visit to complete an on-line application and view the current career openings.

Posted by: Terilee H. Clark No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Employees April 11, 2011

Behind the Water (Spotlight on DMWW Department): Grounds Staff

Water Works Park plays host to many activities throughout the year, including Jolly Holiday Lights, HyVee Fishing Derby, summer concerts and many weddings and reunions.  To keep the park looking presentable for visitors who come for a walk in the park or an event, you can rely on Des Moines Water Works’ grounds crew to take care of it.

There is a lot that goes into taking care of the largest urban park in the United States. Besides the mowing and weeding of 1,500 acres during the warmer months, there are also trees that need to be trimmed and flowers to be planted.  The Arie den Boer Arboretum has over 300 different varieties of crabapple trees that require special attention.  Besides all that, the crew takes care of the park shelter, tables, Memorial Fountain, Maffitt Lake Park and the Fleur Drive flower medians. 

When a flood hits the park, DMWW grounds staff takes care preparing the park, Water Works’ buildings for flood waters.  They close the flood gates and monitor the levee. After the flood waters recede, they then clean up the debris and provide road restoration and grading. 

The summer months are very active in Water Works Park and Maffitt Lake Park and the grounds crew requires additional assistance.  Numerous temporary employees are hired to assist the crew.  Next time you visit Water Works Park or Maffitt Lake Park, take a look at the beauty and appreciate all the efforts of the talented DMWW grounds crew.  To learn about current park events, you can follow DMWW on Twitter and visit the DMWW Website.

Posted by: Terilee H. Clark 3 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Employees, Parks April 7, 2011

Des Moines Water Works Receives Safety Recognition

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) received an award from the Iowa-Illinois Safety Council and the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau for participation in the Belt America Program for 2010.  The Belt America Program recognizes employers that promote seatbelt usage both on and off the job and actively survey employee usage. 

DMWW received an additional award from the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (part of US Department of Transportation) in the form of the Safety Belt Honor Roll in the 90% and over category.  The Safety Belt Honor Roll recognizes employers that achieve 85% employee seatbelt use and higher.

Receiving both of these awards on behalf of DMWW’s Central Safety Committee were Terri Carman (Customer Service), Julia Johnston (Finance) and R. W. Smith (HR).  The awards were presented by Al Perkins, Iowa State Patrol – Retired.  Mr. Perkins is the Belt America Program Manager for the Iowa-Illinois Safety Council, a chapter of National Safety Council.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has identified 6,230 people that have survived otherwise fatal or life threatening crashes since 1986 through the use of seatbelts.  The National Centers for Disease Control estimate that Iowans save $69 million annually through the use of seatbelts.

Posted by: Dorenda Walters 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Employees