Des Moines Water Works Ratepayers Face over $1.5 Million for 2014 and 2015 Denitrification Operational Costs
Monday, July 27, 2015
Des Moines Water Works continues to meet Safe Drinking Water Standards, despite elevated nitrate levels in source waters, largely attributed to upstream agriculture land practices; however, at a heavy cost to water ratepayers.
Des Moines Water Works’ nitrate removal facility was placed offline on July 6, 2015, after 148 days of operation – a record number of days in a single year. In addition, the nitrate removal facility was in operation for 28 days in December 2014. Various denitrification efforts in 2014 and 2015, including operation of the nitrate removal facility, have direct operational costs of over $1,500,000.
Even with challenging nitrate levels in both the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, Des Moines Water Works’ finished drinking water supply for 500,000 central Iowans remained safe and below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Standard for nitrate of 10 mg/L. Des Moines Water Works relied on extraordinary measures comprising of a variety of facilities, processes and capital investments, including the use of lakes and gravel pits as a natural denitrification source; recovering water from reservoirs and aquifer storage and recovery wells; and operating the nitrate removal facility for a record number days in a single year. The collective benefit of all of these efforts, in addition to below average seasonal customer water demand, resulted in Des Moines Water Works being able to keep nitrate levels in drinking water below the Safe Drinking Water Standard.
“Although the immediate risk of drinking water non-compliance may be past us now, Des Moines Water Works continues to seek relief against upstream polluters and agricultural accountability for passing production costs downstream and endangering our drinking water,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “While agriculture industry and commodity groups spend much time and money talking about the continued success of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, Des Moines Water Works is actively planning for capital investments of $76-183 million, a cost funded by ratepayers, for new denitrification technology in order to remove pollutants and continue to provide safe drinking water to a growing central Iowa."
About Des Moines Water Works
Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is a municipal water utility serving the citizens of Des Moines and surrounding communities - approximately 500,000 customers. DMWW is an independently operated public utility with a commitment to leading, advocating and investing today and in the future to deliver water you can trust for life.
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