October 16, 2017

Des Moines Water Works Inaugural Citizen Water Academy

Des Moines Water Works hosted 24 participants (including metro area County Supervisors, Public Works Directors, public health professionals, and business, neighborhood and education leaders) for the first session of the Citizen Water Academy on October 12; which coincided with a nationwide initiative called, “Imagine a Day Without Water.”  While most people understand that water is important, many still take it for granted.  It is our hope that participants not only come away from the Citizen Water Academy with a better understanding of their local water utility, but are also equipped to help lead the discussion on important water issues in our community.

The concept of a Citizen Water Academy is not one that was born here at Des Moines Water Works.  It is something Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager Bill Stowe was made aware at a conference among his peers of the largest water utilities in the country.   The San Diego County Water Authority has been offering its Citizen Water Academy since 2014.  They had a need to better educate the public and community leaders about water management during a severe drought.  While the challenges in Des Moines are different than those in San Diego, we too have a need to better educate and engage the public that depends on us for safe and abundant drinking water.

Des Moines Water Works has successfully supplied drinking water to central Iowans for nearly 100 years; however, the associated planning, production, distribution, monitoring and challenges presented by deteriorating source water are not common knowledge among most citizens.  The Citizen Water Academy is designed to help current and emerging leaders in our community learn and appreciate our most important natural resource, the water we depend on for life.  Participants will receive a total of 16 hours of instruction, tour multiple treatment plants operated by Des Moines Water Works, listen to presentations from soil and water experts, and interact with expert Des Moines Water Works staff over the four sessions of the program.  The goal of the Citizen Water Academy is to arm citizens with data and information to better understand the workings of a drinking water utility.  Additionally, participants learn some of the challenges Des Moines Water Works faces on a regular basis in delivering safe, affordable and abundant drinking water to over 500,000 people in central Iowa.

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