Water Outages & Advisory Areas

Current Outages
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Current Automated Emergency/Advisory Areas
Des Moines Water Works uses an Automated Notification System to notify customers of various emergencies via automated telephone message.  The alerts are geographically defined and can include emergencies such as water outages, boil advisories and important public health or safety notifications.  Recipients’ Caller ID will display Des Moines Water Works (515) 283-8700.  It is very important that Des Moines Water Works has your current phone number(s) on file in order to communicate in such emergencies.  Call Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700 to ensure your phone number(s) on file is current. 

You can view and listen to the emergency message and see the affected area map for current advisory areas below:

Understanding Water Quality Alerts
Similar to severe weather threats, it’s important to understand the meaning of the water quality alerts.

A boil advisory (think of a tornado watch) is a precautionary measure issued in situations where a water main break or a large demand such as a fire has created low pressure in the distribution system, but there is no reason to believe water quality has been compromised. In these situations, as a precaution, customers are encouraged to boil water that will be consumed or used for food preparation. Water should be boiled for two minutes and allowed to cool before use.

A boil order (think of a tornado warning) is issued in a situation, such as a major water main break, where there is significant potential for the quality of the water in the distribution system to be compromised. In these situations, it is essential that customers boil all water that will be consumed or used for food preparation. Water should be boiled for two minutes and allowed to cool before use. This includes water used for: drinking water (including pets), brushing teeth, baby formula, preparing food, washing produce, and preparing coffee, tea, lemonade, etc. Water is safe to use for showering; however, be careful not to ingest the water. Water used for laundry, general washing and outdoor use is safe to use without boiling.

To ensure the quality and safety of the water has been restored following a boil advisory or boil order, Des Moines Water Works must perform analyses on two samples from the area, one taken immediately following the issue and one taken 24 hours later. This means a boil advisory or boil order will be in effect for at least 48 hours. Des Moines Water Works will communicate the end to the order or advisory to give customers an “all clear” signal, at which time customers can be confident the water is safe to drink.

Main Breaks
There are two types of water outages: scheduled and emergency. Scheduled outages include outages required for maintenance, repair, or alteration of the distribution system. In the case of a scheduled outage, every attempt will be made to notify all affected customers. Typically crews will go door-to-door the day prior to the scheduled outage. If there is no answer, a door hanger will be left.  Emergency outages include water main breaks or system damage. 

If a main break occurs in your neighborhood, our crews work quickly to make the repair and restore water service. Due to the urgency of such situations, our crews make the repair process their top priority. Occasionally, this means water service may be interrupted for periods of time without prior notification.  Typically, the water is off for four to six hours.

When the Water Comes Back On
There will likely be air in your water service piping when the water is turned back on. It is a good idea to run water from a faucet that does not have an aerator screen immediately following a water outage. Bathtubs and hosed bibs are good candidates. Open faucets slowly to allow the air to escape. Air will make a spurting or hissing sound as it escapes through the faucet. Once the water is flowing, allow the faucet to run for a minute or two. The water may be cloudy at first due to air in the water or particles that dislodged as the pipes filled with water. This should clear fairly quickly. If water is cloudy throughout the house and it does not clear after allowing the water to run for several minutes, contact Des Moines Water Works dispatch center at (515) 283-8772 for assistance.

If kitchen or bathroom faucets do not perform normally following a water outage it may be necessary to remove the aerator screen. Typically the aerator can simply be unscrewed from the faucet. Inspect the screen for small particles and rinse away any you find. Reinstall the aerator and test performance of the faucet again. If you experience difficulties such as low pressure throughout the house following a water outage, call Des Moines Water Works Dispatch at (515) 283-8772 for assistance.

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