On the Radio: Des Moines Water Works Safety Measures


Photo by w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines); Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers Des Moines’ actions in meeting the high nitrate levels in their river water. Continue reading for the transcript,  or listen to the audio here:

While the EPA’s safe drinking water standard for nitrates is 10 milligrams per liter, this season’s levels in some Iowa rivers has far exceeded that.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

As of early this summer, new records of unusually high nitrate levels were set in Des Moines rivers. The nitrate level was 24 milligrams per liter on the Raccoon River near Jefferson, and the highest recorded nitrate concentration was almost 41 milligrams per liter on Lyons Creek near Webster City.

According to Bill Stowe of Des Moines Water Works, the high nitrate levels are due to increasing runoff from agricultural lands.

The water utility responded to these high nitrates by drawing water from their Maffitt Reservoir, Crystal Lake, and aquifer storage wells instead of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers.

Des Moines Water Works built a $4 million Nitrate Removal Facility back in 1991, which costs approximately $7,000 per day to run. Although it hasn’t been used lately, the facility was activated again this year in May to maintain safe drinking water standards.

As of early July, $500,000 has been spent on water treatments.

For more information about water quality in Iowa, visit iowaenvironmentalfocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

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