Archive for the ‘Green Initiatives’ Category

June 12, 2012

Improve Water Quality with Rain Barrel and Rain Gardens

Rain barrels and rain gardens are a great way to protect our precious water resources and can save you money, too.

Rain barrels collect rainwater from rooftops via rain gutters, which is then used to water yards and gardens. 1/4” rain can yield over 200 gallons of water. Any large container with a lid will work, and you can make your own quite easily.  Many videos with step-by-step instructions for making a rain barrel are available online.

Rain gardens are planted depressions near rain gutters that allow rainwater to be absorbed, thus reducing runoff and potentially polluted storm water going down our storm sewers and into our rivers.  Rain gardens also help recharge groundwater. Native plants should be used because they don’t require fertilizer and are more tolerant to local climate conditions. Rain gardens need a little more maintenance than a lawn in the beginning, but in the long run become much easier to care for.

Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customer Service, Customers, Education, Environment, Green Initiatives, Water Quality April 19, 2012

Des Moines Water Works Celebrates Earth Day

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is gearing up for a special Earth Day weekend full of activities that promote watershed protection and wise use of Earth’s resources.

DMWW is a sponsor for City of Des Moines’ 2012 Trash Bash on Friday, April 20.  This year’s event is dedicated to improving Iowa’s waterways and water quality.  Teams of volunteers will kick-off the event at Nollen Plaza, where DMWW will have an educational booth and debut the DSMH2O Mobile Water Station for visitors to fill up their reusable water bottles!  Be sure to “check-in” to DSMH2O on Foursqaure to receive a free reusable water bottle or T-shirt!  Trash Bash volunteers will then set out to pick up trash in various locations around the city, including Water Works Park.  Last year, over 1,000 volunteers removed 6,000 pounds of trash, tires and recyclables.

DMWW will have an interactive booth at the Science Center of Iowa’s Earth Day Fair on Saturday, April 21 at 11:00 am.  Stop by for fun games, including fishing for pollutants! Be sure to “check-in” to DSMH2O on Foursqaure to receive a free reusable water bottle or T-shirt!

At both events, DMWW will be asking visitors to complete a Take Back the Tap pledge form, encouraging everyone to choose tap water over bottled water whenever possible, as well as support policies that promote clean, affordable tap water for all.  Complete the pledge form and submit it to Des Moines Water Works by June 15 to be entered into a drawing to win a Des Moines Water Works prize pack!

Also, plan a visit to the Des Moines Botanical Center on Sunday, April 22.  Enjoy FREE admission on Earth Day!

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Conservation, Customer Service, Green Initiatives, Water Quality January 24, 2012

Predicting Water Demand

You may not be thinking about where your water will come from in the year 2030, but Des Moines Water Works is.

The forefathers of Des Moines Water Works did a tremendous job planning for and building the infrastructure of the utility to meet the water needs of the City of Des Moines and metro area prior to 1960.  The planning effort has been regionally focused over the last 30 years.  The implementation of these early planning efforts and a continued planning mindset to this day has produced water utility assets that serve the region very well.  These past planning efforts serve to reinforce the importance of long range planning in the infrastructure intensive nature of the water utility business.

In planning for the water utility for the next 20 years, we must first estimate the water needs of the region for this future time period.  The Water Works completed this planning effort in 2008 and 2009, which included analyzing customer water use trends coupled with population forecast for the region to produce forecasted total water needs.  The results predicted there will be continuing water efficiency gains which will lower somewhat the overall per customer water use.  All new home and business water use fixtures require less water today as a result of required efficiency improvements mandated by Federal Legislation in 1992.  However, the Des Moines region is predicted to see continued modest growth in population and in business and industry such that overall water needs are estimated to increase slightly.  It is important for Des Moines Water Works to plan for a slight increase in water needs in order to evaluate the adequacy of source water supplies, which can take many years to develop.

As one can imagine, a water utility must have sufficient source water supplies so as not to inhibit regional growth.  Des Moines Water Works’ planning revealed that the current source supplies are very adequate for the next 20 years, except during a severe drought event that could require mandatory water use restrictions, such as limiting outdoor irrigation and other non-essential uses.  With a greater awareness by most everyone of being “green” and more new construction striving to attain some form of LEED certification or at least following a more conservation ethic, DMWW’s source water supplies could well be adequate for the next 50 years.

Posted by: Randy Beavers No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Conservation, Environment, Green Initiatives, Value of Water April 15, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day!

Earth Day is April 22, and is a great time each year to show off your “greenness!”  Earth Day is a reminder of our responsibility to protect our planet so that it is a place of beauty and remains healthy and safe for future generations.

The first Earth Day was held in the spring of 1970 (thanks to Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and environmentalist activist, Denis Hayes) and was officially declared a day of celebration in 1990. 

You don’t have to be part of an organized event to do your part on Earth Day (and every day). Keep on with the green things you already do and try something new…

  • Take a walk and breathe in the fresh air at Water Works Park
  • Explore a world of plants under one dome at the Des Moines Botanical & Environmental Center.  Enjoy free admission for everyone on Earth Day!
  • Take Household Hazardous Materials (HHMs) to the Regional Collection Center in Bondurant.
  • Purchase more environmentally-friendly products.
  • Don’t purchase more than you will need; then use them up.
  • Buy products that don’t use so much packaging.
  • Use more reusable materials like lunch boxes, sandwich containers, aluminum water bottles and rags.
  • Bag up grass clippings, leaves, sticks and branches and put them in CompostIt! bags at the curb.
  • Clean up pet waste and put it in the garbage so it doesn’t wash down the storm sewers and into the rivers!
  • Keep your car in good repair so it doesn’t leak oil.  Clean up oil leaks with kitty litter or sand and sweep it up.
  • Plant grass and trees so there is no loose dirt on your property.

Even though Earth Day is officially celebrated on April 22, everyday can be Earth Day if you choose.

Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Botanical Center, Conservation, Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Water Works Park, Environment, Green Initiatives, Parks March 3, 2011

A Greener Water Works

Des Moines Water Works has a long history of striving to be environmentally responsible.  Our forefathers believed strongly in protecting the water quality of our river sources, and as such acquired the land that is today Water Works Park and Maffitt Reservoir.  Through the decades, our employees have also invested in upgrading our infrastructure to make it more energy efficient, like installing energy efficient pumps and motors at our water treatment plants and remote pumping facilities.

Last year, Des Moines Water Works formed its first official “Green Team” in March of 2010.  This team is made up of employees from each department within the utility.  Their mission is “to serve as a liaison to employees and customers, communicating, promoting, and implementing sustainability and stewardship initiatives that demonstrate environmental responsibility to the community.”

One of the first activities of the Green Team was to expand DMWW’s recycling program to the new single-stream recycling now available.  As part of that project, additional recycling bins have been located to make it easier for employees to recycle and in some departments the number of trash cans have been reduced.  DMWW is also recycling batteries, ink cartridges, computer equipment, cell phones, light bulbs, used oil and oil filters, anti-freeze, tires, scrap metal (including old hydrants, valves, and pipe), and concrete from main breaks.

Des Moines Water Works is also participating in the first Sustainability Circle in Des Moines.  As part of this program conducted by Natural Capitalism, Inc., DMWW is working with six other organizations in the metro area to learn ways to reduce waste and save money.  We believe strongly in doing our part to protect the environment both now and for future generations.

DMWW’s Green Team has a variety of projects planned for 2011 and beyond to help create a more environmentally responsible workplace and utility for its employees and community.

Posted by: Jenny Puffer No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Des Moines Water Works Park, Employees, Environment, Green Initiatives January 5, 2011

DMWW Reports Carbon Footprint

Des Moines Water Works recently reported its greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions to The Climate Registry, a nonprofit organization that is a collaboration of North American states, provinces, territories, and Native Sovereign Nations.  The purpose of the organization is to set consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify and publicly report GHG emissions.  Reports for CY 2007 though 2009 can be viewed through the Climate Registry Web site:

DMWW analyzed and reported its GHG emissions to gather information regarding sustainability of treatment and distribution processes, as well as contribution of GHGs to the environment. The analyses did provide a few surprises.  Electrical power usage contributes over 90% of total energy use and GHG emissions.  Clearly the greatest opportunity to diminish GHG emissions is to reduce electrical demand and improve energy efficiencies.  Most of the electricity is used to pump large volumes of water where distance and elevation are the primary variables to energy requirements.  Location of facilities as well as design is an important factor in overall efficiency.  The two lime softening treatment plants (Fleur Drive and L.D. McMullen at Maffitt Reservoir) were very similar in their GHG emissions per million gallons of treated water, even though the newer McMullen facility is a more efficient design with newer and better equipment. This analysis provides a baseline to compare energy efficiencies of differing technologies, such as the all-membrane treatment process at the new Saylorville Water Treatment Plant versus lime softening at the Fleur Drive and L.D. McMullen plants.

Documenting GHG emissions according to rigorous reporting protocols provided invaluable information on power use and inefficiencies, and identified opportunities to improve energy efficiency.  The process identified potential capital investments that will reduce the utility’s risk to a limited energy supply, so DMWW can continue to provide a sustainable supply of water to customers in a cost effective and environmentally responsible manner.

Posted by: Gordon Brand 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Green Initiatives October 5, 2010

At DMWW, It’s Cool to be Green

It’s Cool to Be Green is the theme of this school year’s free environmental education programs offered to Des Moines area schools by the Urban Environmental Partnership. Mary Gillaspey (Metro Waste Authority) and I are busy traveling to area classrooms to teach about taking care of the world around us.  In all of our 16 different programs, we try to get across the message of watershed protection in a fun way.

Young kids love Dewey the waterdrop puppet as he takes them on a journey of water traveling through Des Moines. When the Raccoon River Players (Mary and I) visit a classroom to perform three humorous skits, kids get to learn about how water becomes polluted (and how to prevent it) and about breaking the nasty litterbug habit. Students get the chance to hone their recycling skills in our Recycle Me presentation. Older students get to learn about how watersheds and landfills work through the use of table-sized plastic models.

The water cycle comes alive with a puzzle activity of where water goes at it travels through Des Moines. Students learn about the steps it takes to get drinking water and wastewater clean through large picture cards or a Powerpoint presentation and chemical samples, or they can come on a tour of Des Moines Water Works and walk through the steps of water treatment.  A highlight of the tour is a visit to the laboratory and the opportunity to see some of the testing our microbiologist and chemists do every day to make sure the water is clean and safe to drink. Teachers can schedule our programs and tours by emailing me at [email protected] .

Posted by: Gail Peckumn No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Education, Employees, Environment, Green Initiatives, Health