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October 24, 2014

FAQ

Frequently asked questions are divided into the following categories:
  • Radio Read Installation Questions 
  • Billing Questions
  • General
  • Irrigation Systems
  • Water Quality

Radio Read Installation Questions

Billing Questions

General

Irrigation Systems

Water Quality

Question:

Why are you doing this?

Answer:

It is more efficient and less intrusive for you. All of the water meters in your entire neighborhood will be read remotely by radio in a matter of minutes.

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Question:

What will this cost me?

Answer:

Nothing. Performing our work more efficiently helps us to achieve the lowest water rates possible.

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Question:

What are you going to do first?

Answer:

We need to install a meter-reading device on the outside of your home or business. The device is approximately 4 ½ inches wide and 5 ½ inches tall. Our technician will connect it to the small TouchRead device that is already in place on the outside of your home.

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Question:

Do I need to do anything?

Answer:

No. Installation of the device should take us about 10 minutes. We do not anticipate any need to come into your home or business. If we find we do need to gain access to the water meter, we will set up an appointment with you.

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Question:

What if I have additional questions?

Answer:

Please call our Customer Service Department at 222-3460 or send an email to our general mailbox at waterworks@wdmww.com.

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Question:

What municipal services are included in my monthly bill?

Answer:

Your municipal services bill is prepared by West Des Moines Water Works. It includes monthly charges for water, sanitary sewer, stormwater management and solid waste services.

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Question:

How often do you read my water meter?

Answer:

Our staff reads an average of 1,600 meters per day. We try to read each meter at nearly the same time each month to help ensure a consistent billing period. In the rare instances when we are unable to obtain an actual reading, an estimated bill is prepared based upon your past water consumption.

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Question:

What payment options do I have?

Answer:

West Des Moines Water Works makes bill paying easy. You can mail your payment in the accompanying envelope; pay in person at our office or after-hours drop box; pay by echeck, AUTO PAY, credit or debit card at this web site or via touchtone telephone at (800) 272-9829 (when prompted for jurisdiction code, use 2503)or use FLEX-PAY which is a convenient and automatic payment method. Call us at 222-3460 for details.

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Question:

What can I do about a high water bill?

Answer:

In most cases, increased water usage is caused by a leaking faucet or toilet. We suggest these repairs be made quickly to save you money on your monthly bill. If you have increased water usage but don't know why, contact our Customer Service Department at 222-3460. A field representative can visit your home to assist in determining the cause of the problem and the appropriate course of action. There's no charge for this service.

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Question:

Where is my water meter?

Answer:

Your meter is located at the point where the water pipe comes through the foundation. Usually it's either in your home's basement or utility room. If you can't find it, please call us at 222-3460 for assistance. West Des Moines Water Works owns the water meter and is responsible for its routine maintenance. Property owners are responsible for protecting the water meter from damage and providing access to the meter and meter reading equipment.

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Question:

What is a curb valve used for?

Answer:

Curb valves are used to turn water service on and off. Each water service pipe is required to have an operable curb valve, usually located in the public right-of-way. Curb valves are owned by the property owner. It is important to maintain an operable curb valve so that water can be turned off in an emergency; especially if your home or business is being flooded.

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Question:

What should I do about unexplained running water in the street or in my yard?

Answer:

Water main and service pipe leaks can cause extreme damage to private and public property. Please report this to our Customer Service Department at 222-3460 as soon as possible. Other signs of a leak may include a drop in pressure, a noise in the plumbing, or standing water in your yard.

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Question:

When are you open?

Answer:

Our normal hours are Monday thru Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

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Question:

What if I have a problem after hours?

Answer:

In the event of an after hours emergency, please call 222-3460. Our on-call staff is available 24 hours a day to respond to your needs.

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Question:

Who are the members of the Water Works Board of Trustees?

Answer:

West Des Moines Water Works Board of Trustees
As of February 1, 2013
Name Original Appointment Term Expires
Karen Novak Swalwell, Chair   January 1, 2006 December 31, 2017
Philip J. Dorweiler
October 1, 2004 December 31, 2016
Brian P. Rickert January 1, 2009 December 31, 2014
Gretchen Tegeler January 1, 2013 December 31, 2018
Scott M. Brennan February 1, 2013 December 31, 2015


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Question:

Why should I consider a separate water meter for outside faucets?

Answer:

Systems using outside faucets may add a separate water meter to a property to specifically measure water for outdoor use. This meter is separate from those installed to track water usage indoors. Using a separate water meter avoids sanitary sewer fees for irrigation. The savings can be substantial—as of October 2011, sanitary sewer fees in West Des Moines run $4.85 per thousand gallons of water used. Having a separate water meter installed is the only way to accurately measure the water used exclusively from outside faucets.

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Question:

What should I know about installing an irrigation water meter?

Answer:

You or your licensed plumber must prepare a meter setting in an accessible location within a heated area, adjacent to the water service pipe entering your home or business. A floor drain should be located nearby. Place shutoff valves on either side of the new water meter location. If the water meter is for an installed (underground) irrigation system, a reduced pressure principle backflow prevention device will need to be installed downstream of the water meter. After your meter setting is prepared, call West Des Moines Water Works at 515-222-3460. We will install the water meter and an electronic meter reading device at no charge.

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Question:

What are Water Supply Connection Fees used for?

Answer:

About 3,400 homes and businesses in West Des Moines have separate water meters installed to measure the water used in their irrigation systems. Whether you choose a portable system or an underground irrigation system that’s permanently installed, both types are charged a one-time water supply connection fee before the system can be linked to the West Des Moines water distribution network. This fee is paid to the West Des Moines Water Works to fund a portion of the capital improvements necessary to support the increased demand that irrigation systems place upon our community’s water supply, treatment and storage facilities

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Question:

What are the fees associated with "outside faucets only" and "installed" irrigation system?

Answer:

Regardless of the irrigation system you choose, a separate water meter avoids sanitary sewer fees for water used for irrigation. There is no charge for additional water meters or their installation. In order to serve all of our customers equitably, however, the West Des Moines Water Works charges a water supply connection fee for both outside faucets only and installed irrigation systems. Generally, the one-time water supply connection fee for portable irrigation systems which obtain water from outside faucets only is $460. For installed systems in a typical single-family dwelling, the one-time water supply connection fee is generally $700. Your fee will be calculated based on the square footage of the irrigated area and the average rainfall rate measured in inches per hour. The maximum flow rate will used to compute the size of your water meter. These fees take into account the additional water volume delivered to your home or business. Higher fees apply for larger lots. For more details, please call the West Des Moines Water Works at (515)222-3460. In addition to your regular water usage fees, a basic service charge that is dependant upon meter size will be added to your bill each month. Though you’ll receive a separate statement for each meter, you can pay both bills with one check to the West Des Moines Water Works each month.

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Question:

How hard is my water?

Answer:

Hard water is caused by the presence of minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium. Water hardness varies in different parts of Iowa and the United States due to different geological rock formations and the length of time the water has been in contact with them. In Iowa, the primary rock formation is limestone. As water passes over and through it, calcium and magnesium are dissolved, making the water hard.

The hardness of West Des Moines tap water averages 154 milligrams per liter (9 grains per gallon) which is in the middle of the scale used by the EPA to define hardness and softness. This is comparable to other softened drinking water in Central Iowa.

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Question:

Is West Des Moines' tap water safe to drink?

Answer:

Yes. Our water more than meets all regulatory mandates, and has never violated any standard. Drinking water is regulated through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Question:

Where does our water come from?

Answer:

West Des Moines water comes from three sources. About 50 percent comes from 19 shallow wells (all between 40 and 50 feet deep) that draw water from the Raccoon River Alluvial aquifer and 30 percent from 3 wells drilled into the much deeper Jordan Aquifer (2,500 feet deep). The remaining 20 percent is purchased from the Des Moines Water Works. This is treated and purified water from the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers.

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Question:

Is bottled water safer than tap water?

Answer:

Bottled water is only as good as its source. Many bottled water are actually bottled tap water. Currently, bottled water is not as heavily regulated or tested as tap water. Instead, bottled water is regulated through the Food and Drug Administration and is considered a food product. Additionally, water utilities are required to release information on their water's quality whereas, bottled water companies are not.

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Question:

Do I need a water filter?

Answer:

Your tap water is perfectly safe without one. If you have an internal problem with your plumbing, you may want to consider a filter or treatment system.

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Question:

Is there lead in my water?

Answer:

West Des Moines Water Works has not detected lead in their treated water. However, lead can come from the customer's plumbing. According to the EPA, two types of homes may be at risk for lead contamination...homes that are very old with lead pipes, and homes that were built between 1982 and 1987, which used copper pipe with lead-based solder. Lead-based solder was banned from use on domestic drinking water plumbing in 1987. For more information, call us at 222-3465.

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Question:

What is in West Des Moines' treated water?

Answer:

All natural waters contain minerals and some chemicals. EPA has identified over 80 potential contaminants that when present at levels above established limits may be a health threat. For more information, please click here to view our Water Quality Report.

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Question:

Can home treatment devices do more harm than good?

Answer:

Yes. If regular maintenance is not performed properly, water quality problems can result.

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Question:

What type of disinfectant do you use in drinking water?

Answer:

We add chlorine to keep the water safe. The small amount of chlorine necessary to kill bacteria is nearly undetectable to taste or smell.

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Question:

How long can tap water be stored and how should it be stored?

Answer:

Cold tap water can be stored for about 2 weeks if kept sealed, cool, away from light and in a clean glass or hard plastic container.

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Question:

Is it OK to drink hot water from the tap?

Answer:

No.  Because hot water dissolves lead more quickly than cold water, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that water taken from the hot-water tap not be used for cooking or drinking and especially not for making baby formula.

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Question:

How do I flush my water heater?

Answer:

Click here to view instructions

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Question:

What should I do if my water is discolored?

Answer:

Discoloration is usually caused by rust in aging iron pipes. It is not harmful, but is aesthetically displeasing. Home plumbing could be the problem, or the problem could be caused by disturbance in a nearby water main. Water main maintenance or nearby fire hydrant usage can causes this type of disturbance. If rust becomes trapped in your water heater, it may continue to cause problems until it has been flushed. We can help. Call us at 222-3460 for more information.

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Question:

Do we have fluoride in our water?

Answer:

Yes. West Des Moines has approximately one part per million of fluoride in the water. This helps to prevent tooth decay.

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