DES MOINES, Iowa -- Monday is Earth Day, and to celebrate, Des Moines Water Works made some history.
The facility along the Raccoon River now has what they call a revolutionary piece of equipment. It has also launched a new initiative to clean up Iowa’s waterways by asking Iowans to remember two words: “think downstream.”
“We believe that now is the time to create a vision for Iowa as a clean water state. That can be done if we all think downstream. If we all look at our practices and our activities and think of how they impact the quality of the surface waters here in the state of Iowa,” said Des Moines Water Works Interim Director Ted Corrigan.
“Think downstream” led to a major change in how Water Works disposes of waste. For 27 years, the utility has been removing nitrates from drinking water, then releasing those nitrates back downstream away from our water system. But a new multi-million dollar pumping station will now remove and store those nitrates, then transfer them to the metro's waste treatment plant to be recycled.
Community leaders say it will clean up water downstream from Des Moines. They just hope people upstream will do the same.
“Hopefully we're setting an example. We can work as a team. We're all Iowans. We're all in this together,” said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.
Water Works points out nitrate levels in our rivers continue to climb, as does the amount of nitrates dumped into the Gulf of Mexico.