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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Water restrictions loom in central Iowa due to nitrates

Water restrictions loom in central Iowa due to nitrates

It’s been a wet spring in Iowa but water utilities in the Des Moines metro area are asking people to save water because of high nitrate levels in the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers.

For now, Des Moines Water Works CEO Ted Corrigan says tap water is held below the legal limit by running a nitrate removal facility and mixing in low-nitrate water from wells and reservoirs.

As people start watering lawns and demand increases, Corrigan says those low-nitrate sources won’t keep up.

“The rivers look as full as they’ve looked for years, and now we’re talking about having to implement conservation measures,” Corrigan says, “but this is a water quality question, not a water quantity question.”

The two rivers are a major source of drinking water for around 600,000 people in central Iowa. The current filtration process simply won’t be able to meet demand, he says, as water use typically rises during the summer months.

Corrigan says, “We just don’t physically have enough nitrate removal capacity to remove all the nitrate we would have to remove at higher summertime demand.”

Corrigan says Des Moines and other members of the Central Iowa Water Works are asking people to not over-water their lawns.

If drinking water comes close to violating the nitrate standard, he says people can expect to see mandatory restrictions.

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