Des Moines Water Works Focused on Safety, Quality

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Des Moines Water Works has the task of filtering its municipal tap water to meet federal guidelines.

Drake University Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Sustainability Peter Levi said, “The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act established acceptable levels of certain contaminants, such as coliform bacteria and nitrate. Drinking water utilities are required to test for these contaminants on a regular basis to ensure the water they are distributing does not exceed the levels listed in the Act.”

Des Moines Water Works said it follows requirements by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It takes water from the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers to be filtered for clean drinking water.

Des Moines Water Works Public Affairs Manager Laura Sarcone said the plant monitors more than 100 contaminants and meets almost 90 regulations for water and safety quality.

“We are treating the water in order to remove those contaminants. Whether it be nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus or if it is hardness. Anything that the customers would feel like is ecstatically unappealing to drink or on the water quality standard side,” Sarcone said.

The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act regulates these contaminants.

Sarcone said each month Des Moines Water Works conducts tests for people to check either their well water or household water.

“Water that goes out into our distribution center meets the safe drinking water standards. Once it hits your indoor plumbing, it can have the opportunity and potential aspect to deteriorate depending on your pipe’s material. If it’s lead, copper or plastic,” Sarcone said.

People pay to have the tests done inside the Des Moines Water Works lab. The Iowa State Hygienic Lab also has an extensive list of tests that can be done on a public or private supply of water.

Levi said all drinking water utilities are mandated by law and regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, “However, rural areas where people are dependent on water from private wells is not regulated. Without regular testing, these waters may exceed the acceptable levels of certain contaminants.”

Sarcone said some bottled water will filter out some minerals like calcium and fluoride that help provide dental protection.

“Some bottled water comes from municipal tap water. So, they take water from the city and then they run through some certain types of treatment processing inside their bottling distribution centers and package it and sell it to consumers,” Sarcone said.

People who use an additional filter for their tap water need to follow directions on when to replace the filter.

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