U.S. Water News Online
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Residents in this city can find out
exactly what's in the water flowing from their tap at any time from a
new Web site set up by the Des Moines Water Works.
What's the pH? Up-to-the-minute test results are posted.
How about the fluoride content? Nitrates? Sodium? The latest
measurements are available, complete with links that explain the
impact of these minerals on human health and current government
``Since we are taking water from the river, that can change with
time, and people are interested in more detailed information in
addition to the fact that the water is safe to drink,'' said L.D.
McMullen, general manager of the Des Moines Water Works.
For consumers, the website serves the same function as the content
labels put on food products, he said.
``The way that the site works is that when you do an inquiry, it
goes directly into our laboratory database and extracts the
information at that precise moment in time for what we've analyzed
for,'' McMullen said. ``Any time that you come on, it's the latest
information that's available.''
The city's Fleur Drive treatment plant houses the world's largest
nitrate removal facility, as well as a chemical softening process to
remove heavy metals, dissolved rock and microorganisms, and a carbon
filtration system to remove organics and pesticides.
The Water Works' Web site lists 19 different tests run on the
city's drinking water, including sodium and sulfate levels, dissolved
solids, organic carbons, and temperature and turbidity.
The Web site was set up under a grant from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency through its EMPACT program -- Environmental
Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking.
The program was created at the direction of President Clinton in
1996. Its goal is to make timely, accurate, and understandable
environmental information available so people and communities can
make informed day-to-day decisions about their lives.
``America's families deserve timely, useful, and accurate
environmental and public health information,'' Vice President Al Gore
said in a statement announcing Des Moines' new Web site.
``This new Web site is just one example of how we can improve the
public's right to know, so that the public can use environmental
information to make decisions that protect their health and the
health of their families,'' he said.
The Des Moines project is one of four water quality EMPACT
projects nationwide, and ``it's the only one that we're aware of that
is giving real time data on drinking water,'' McMullen said.
``It's new and different, something that no one else has tried to
Other EMPACT projects provide information about air quality and
ultraviolet exposure in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area;
water quality at beaches in Milwaukee and Racine, Wis.; and marine
monitoring in Long Island Sound.
The Internet address is
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