Posts Tagged ‘E. Coli’

October 14, 2011

Polk County Snapshot: Volunteer Monitoring Event to Evaluate Water Quality in Polk County

The Des Moines Chapter of Izaak Walton League will coordinate the 2011 fall Polk County Snapshot event. Partners for the Snapshot include the Izaak Walton League, Iowa Environmental Council, State Hygienic Laboratory and Des Moines Water Works. Volunteers do not need experience to participate. Sampling is done in groups of two to four people, and we try to make sure at least one experienced volunteer (someone who is a trained by IOWATER or has done the snapshot before) is with each group. 

Water monitoring of Polk County rivers, streams, ponds and lakes is conducted in the spring and fall.  In sampling events held the past 7 years, volunteers helped collect water samples at over 70 sites throughout the county.  For safety reasons, it is required that there is a minimum of 2 people per team.  Children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult. 

Volunteers should register with Mike Delaney at [email protected] or (515) 339-0438.

Volunteers will meet at the Izaak Walton League, 4343 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines, IA to get their site assignments, sampling gear and instructions. 

What is a snapshot?  A snapshot is a view of water quality within a short time frame. It involves sampling the water in a specific location from your local creek, stream, river or lake. Most snapshots usually require about six hours.

Who participates?  Anyone can participate… teachers, students, city and county employees, concerned community members, clubs and other group organizations… both young and seasoned volunteers alike! Anyone with an interest in water quality in Central Iowa is encouraged to get involved.

Why are Snapshots conducted?  To learn more about the quality of our source waters and ways we can help improve them.

What do you find in a snapshot?  Results have shown that most streams in the metro area are impaired with pollutants from agricultural operations, urban runoff and human wastewater. Nearly all metro streams contain numbers of disease-causing E. coli bacteria, nitrate and phosphorus at levels well beyond the safe standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

How can I get involved?  It’s easy! Just contact Mike Delaney at [email protected] or (515) 339-0438.

Posted by: Linda Kinman No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Water Quality September 13, 2011

Getting Cultured

Des Moines Water Works has a state-certified laboratory to test water for bacteria. Let’s explore how it’s done:

  • Samples of source water are taken prior to the treatment process on a daily basis.
  • The samples are then placed in containers, such as petri dishes or pouches with numerous tiny capsules, along with “media,” a substance that acts like food for the bacteria.
  • The samples are then left to incubate for approximately 24 hours.
  • During this time, a bacterium can multiply from one to millions, making a colony that can be seen by the human eye in the culture plate.

The laboratory tests specifically for Coliform bacteria. Coliforms can be counted on a grid in the petri dish. E. Coli is grown in pouches with wells of medium. When placed under an ultraviolet light, the E. coli flouresces to a blue color indicating how many are present.

These tests are done before treatment and are indicators of the absence or presence of potential contamination in the water sample. All new water mains are tested for bacteria and must be free of all harmful bacteria before they are put into use.

The lime treatment process used by Des Moines Water Works kills 99.9 percent of bacteria and a chlorine additive eliminates anything that might be left, ensuring that your tap water is Water You Can Trust for Life.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Water Quality, Water Treatment August 11, 2011

What’s In the (Source) Water?

Ignorance can be bliss, but most of us would like to be informed about what we are drinking.  For this reason, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) makes a conscientious effort to share with our customers all of the details pertaining to their drinking water system. Sometimes, the news isn’t always good!

E. coli is a species of bacteria found in the intestinal tract of vertebrates. DMWW lab staff regularly looks for them in our source waters and in our treated drinking water.  E. coli is used as an indicator that water is potentially contaminated with human and animal waste, and therefore possible disease organisms.  Not even one E. coli bacterium can legally be present in drinking water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.  The numbers in source water can vary from zero to an amazingly high number in both the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers. Des Moines Water Works relies heavily upon these two rivers as sources for fulfilling the Metro area’s daily demand for water. E. coli values over 2 million colonies/100 millimeter are present at times in some of the smaller streams that feed into our rivers.

DMWW’s extensive and rigorous treatment process physically removes or kills all of these bacteria before the water is delivered to customers.  Nonetheless, customers should be aware of the water quality present in Iowa’s water resources, which are the source of drinking water for the state’s residents.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Water Quality, Water Treatment March 18, 2011

Just the Facts – E. Coli Q&A

Q: What is E. coli?

E. coli is a very common bacterium that lives in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Most E. coli strains are harmless and often beneficial, but there are a few strains of E. coli that are harmful to humans when ingested. The most common of these harmful strains is E. coli O157: H7.

Q: Where does E. coli 0157:H7 come from?

Its source is usually inadequately cooked processed meats, such as hamburger. It is very rare for this organism to cause trouble in drinking water. It usually enters the source water through human or animal waste.

Q. Is E. coli in my drinking water?

No. Des Moines Water Works’ state-of-the-art laboratory monitors your drinking water at the plant to ensure that no harmful bacteria are present. In addition, Des Moines Water Works collects 150 samples of water per month from Des Moines’ distribution system to comply with the United States Environmental

Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. An employee travels to various taps throughout the area and collects samples to determine chlorine levels and collects samples for bacteria analysis. The surrounding suburbs and cities that use Des Moines Water Works water also collect samples from their systems for testing. This means that over 300 samples per month are collected to ensure that you are receiving safe, clean drinking water. E. coli has never been found in Des Moines Water Works’ drinking water.

Q: How does Des Moines Water Works remove E. coli from the source water?

Des Moines Water Works uses several steps to remove E. coli from the water. Lime softening, sand filtration, and chlorination are used in combination to effectively treat our water, ensuring that you receive the highest quality, safe drinking water.

Q: What are the health effects of E. coli 0157:H7?

E.coli O157: H7 grows inside the human intestines causing diarrhea and vomiting. In some individuals, the toxin that it produces may be absorbed by the blood stream. This toxin then travels to the kidneys where it causes life-threatening damage.

For additional information, call the SAFE DRINKING WATER HOTLINE: 1-800-426-4791.

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Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Health, Water Quality, Water Treatment