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WATER WORKS: ‘Dangerous’ Chemical Discovered

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Des Moines Water Works has notified some customers that their water contained a potentially dangerous chemical that people drank for months.

But Water Works' top official says the water is safe and people should be fine even if they drank the water before crews fully treated it.

Customers received a letter in the mail this past week saying Water Works violated a drinking water standard. CEO, Bill Stowe, said the water had higher amounts of dirt and fertilizer from runoff over the winter. He said crews had to use unusually high amounts of chlorine to clean the water. As a result, the chlorine mixed with other particles already existing in the water causing a chemical called TTHM (Total Trihalomethanes) to form.

Stowe says results from February’s water testing just came in and those results showed the city exceeded the recommended amount of that cleansing chemical.

“We take very seriously and are accountable for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act but we would hope that the land users, agricultural land users upstream from us, will take accountability and help us in insuring that this won’t happen in the future.”

Stowe says they are still working on a way to fix this problem. Since there have been high levels all quarter long. Stowe says customers can expect to get more letters in the mail until the average levels falls below the standard.


  • William Denison

    Little girl: Mommy why does my water taste like Grandpas farm?
    Mother:Shut up and drink your water.

  • William Denison

    Now I know what wrong with Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds. Drink to much kool aid mixed with DM water.

      • William Denison

        Nope I drink the tears of Republicans. My plates are held together pretty tight. Doctors did a great job.

  • Martin Dierenfeld

    What about urban run off? Millions of gallons of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer are applied on lawns now days. Where does that run off go?
    It is not just the farmers.

  • AK

    Every “farmer” (read: industrial ag polluter) should get their farms sued right out from under their feet. It’s time to get serious about this. They are clearly the ones causing the problems WE ALL have to deal with.

  • TES

    Before you go buying cases of bottled water or whining about DMWW: consider 1. why the water is contaminated in the first place and that 2. bottled water manufacturers are LESS regulated than public utilities and contaminants from the bottles themselves end up in the water by the time you drink it. (Not to mention the wasted energy this SUP took to create or havoc it will cause at the landfill, if it makes it that far.) Instead you can buy a filter. Furthermore do your part and eliminate pesticides or other contaminants from your yard, then write your representative to tell him/her we expect the same from Ag Sector.make an impact.

  • Pbody

    We are all to blame here. Voting in unethical politicians, letting them elect judges that pass laws that allow more and more money into our political systems. What about the detergent we all use to clean out clothes, soap for dishes… Let’s face it our economy relies on us consuming, not to mention industry we create that is not needed that poisons our water… pioneer/ Monsanto anyone? Plastic bags, plastic bottles, run off from pesticides, hog doo doo, laundry detergent. It all has to go somewhere people. Take a bike ride through water works and get a big whiff. Better yet take a swim in the river and good luck getting that smell off you. Unless you are going to do something about it then keep comments to yourself.

  • Tre Collins

    When you quoted Bill Stowe, Ms. Whitworth, you used the term “insure,” but it is more correct to use “ensure” because the former refers more toward financial contexts.

    Back on topic, I knew something was up when I started taking steamy showers and it started reeking like chlorine–I thought for a moment that I was in a public swimming pool. I also dislike how Mr. Stowe offset his own ‘accountability’ by outsourcing it to another alleged culprit (agricultural land users) in the same sentence. Doesn’t seem like this being taken very seriously.

  • TylerB

    I find it ironic that that Bill Stowe deflects any of his own responsibility to blame others and give logic for a rate hike. He deflect arguments and justifys rate hikes that will pay his salary and yet belittles Iowa ag regarding profits. This finger pointing game does nothing to progress positive change. All have responsibility to contribute to clean waters and Iowa farmers have made positive progress to reduce siltation and nutrients in rivers for decades, all while increasing productivity. This response will only continue at higher rates with implementation of the Iowa water quality initiative. We monitor more and know more about how streams react to nutrients now more than ever, but there is still more to be done. Blanket regulation and the blame game will not solve the issue.

    We must all consider, well fed people have many problems while a hungry person has one.

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