DES MOINES, Iowa – Des Moines Water Works CEO Ted Corrigan tells WHO13 the water in the Des Moines River has a high level of microcystin, a toxin produced by blue-green algae, that makes the river unsuitable for use as a drinking water source. The Raccoon River’s flow is very low right now due to ongoing drought conditions and demand for water is very high. This combination hasn’t triggered a call for restrictions but Corrigan would like people to be careful with their water use.
He also wants to assure Water Works customers the water coming from their taps is safe to drink.
The Des Moines River is also still safe for recreation. The level of toxin has been 10 times the federal recommendation for drinking water but does not trigger a warning for other uses. There have been multiple beach closings around Iowa in the last few years due to high levels of microcystin resulting from blue-green algae blooms.
Blue-green algae blooms are caused by agricultural runoff combined with hot weather and slow-moving or stagnant water.
Corrigan points to the Use Water Wisely page for suggestions on how to keep water demand in check. One example is to avoid watering lawns on Monday, the weekday with the highest water using in Des Moines.