Nitrate Levels Cost the Metro - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Nitrate Levels Cost the Metro

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Addie Olson


Nitrate levels in both the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers are high. They've been on the rise since April, but now the metro is seeing more of it in the water than ever before.

The dog days of summer put water demand at an all time high. The metro has seen plenty of water this spring, but they've never seen this much nitrate running through it.

"We certainly have seen high levels before," said Water Works CEO Bill Stowe. "In the late '80s after a drought, there was a flush, but not at this level and in both rivers for this long a period of time. This is record–breaking territory for us."

Water Works has to clean out that nitrate to make the water safe to drink. Clearing it out costs a lot of money, and some of it will come from customers' pockets.

"It absolutely will mean higher rates for customers," said Stowe.

Water Works can't say exactly what the rate increase will be, but the break–down is simple: The higher the levels in the water, the higher the numbers on your water bills.

The best thing customers can do to help is turn the water off.

"We need the cooperation of folks here on a consumer basis," said Stowe. "First of all here to try and reduce the amount of water they're using, particularly in irrigation."

The nitrate levels are up because of farm run-off. After four months of those levels rising, there's no telling when they might go down.

Even after the nitrate's cleared out, the rivers will likely see a lot of algae. Nitrate along with the warm weather inhibits the growth of it in the water.

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