Des Moines Water Works Starts its Nitrate Removal Facility
Thursday, April 28, 2016
While Des Moines Water Works’ finished drinking water continues to meet Safe Drinking Water standards, persistent elevated nitrate concentration levels in both the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers have forced Des Moines Water Works to start its nitrate removal facility today. As the utility manages various denitrification strategies in order to provide safe drinking water to 500,000 central Iowans, it once again underscores the lack of progress through the voluntary-only Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
In 2015, Des Moines Water Works ended 2015 operating its nitrate removal facility for a record 177 days, surpassing the previous record of 106 days set in 1999. Operational costs for denitrification in 2015 exceeded $1,500,000.
“Last year distinguished itself as an environmental low point for surface water quality in Iowa, and 2016 has provided no signs of improvement,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “However, industrial agriculture leaders and some policy makers would lead Iowans belief that our rivers, lakes and streams are alternatively doing well, are unaffected by agrotoxins, or are the victims of weather.”
The increase in nitrate levels in the rivers is attributable to upstream agricultural land practices, with the largest contribution made by application of fertilizer to row-crops, made worse by unregulated discharge of nitrate into the rivers through artificial subsurface drainage systems.
The greatest health risk posed by high nitrate concentrations is for infants under six months of age. Nitrate can transform into nitrite in the infant’s body, reducing the ability of the baby’s blood to carry oxygen. This may result in Blue Baby Syndrome. Des Moines Water Works’ finished drinking water nitrate concentration is currently below the level which is indicated to cause these health implications. If you are caring for an infant, you may wish to seek advice from your healthcare provider.
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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