The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

June 16, 2014

City: Nitrate dumping not a major issue

OTTUMWA — Nitrates dumped into the river upstream don’t do Ottumwa Water and Hydro any good, officials say, but the amounts released by cities pale in comparison to what rain washes into the river.

Tim Albert, production manager at the Ottumwa water plant, ran some numbers after a weekend report said cities frequently return the nitrates they remove from the Des Moines River after purifying water for their cities. He said the peak last summer involved “unprecedented levels, like we’ve never seen before.”

Nitrates, which largely get into rivers from fertilizer runoff, must be below 10 mg per liter to meet federal safety standards. The worst day last summer saw Ottumwa levels at 14.4 mg per liter.

Cities upstream, including Des Moines, have the ability to remove nitrates from the water. But the Associated Press reports most cities that do so then dump the solutions containing the nitrates back into the river. Eventually, that arrives at downstream cities.

Ottumwa doesn’t do that. It can’t.

“Ottumwa doesn’t actually have the equipment to remove the nitrates from the water,” Albert said.

Ottumwa handles the issue by diluting the river water with water from Ottumwa’s backup source. Blending enough low nitrate water with high nitrate water results in levels that pass safety regulations. The city uses the same basic approach when the water is too muddy.

Scale explains why Albert isn’t overly concerned about upstream cities. Would it be nice if they didn’t dump nitrates back into the water? Of course. But the AP cited an estimate from Des Moines Water Works officials that the city dumped about 13,500 pounds of nitrates back into the river last year.

Ottumwa had about 14.28 billion gallons of water flowing by the city on the worst nitrate day of 2013, which Albert called “an absolutely astronomical amount of water.” That included 205,000 pounds of nitrates on that one day, more than 15 times the amount Des Moines officials say their city dumped in the entire year.

Text Only
Local News
  • No Headline Provided Today ... A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3 p.m. Mostly sunny, with a high near 94. Heat index values as high as 107. Breezy. Tonight ... A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 1 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low

    July 22, 2014

  • Bill OK'd for data recovery OTTUMWA — Almost a month ago, the city’s Engineering Department’s server failed. After receiving and installing the necessary parts, attempts to restart the server failed, resulting in a drive being shipped to Data Recovery Services in St. Louis in h

    July 21, 2014

  • Man killed in Wapello County BLOOMFIELD — A man was discovered dead Monday of a gunshot wound in rural Wapello County. However, no further danger related to the shooting is expected. Authorities aren't giving full details of the incident, but a press release said that at 1:21 a.

    July 21, 2014

  • Forensic scientist: Residue doesn't determine who fired gun DAVENPORT — A forensic scientist who testified today in the trial of a Wapello County man accused of murdering his wife said that gun residue should be collected if possible. Seth Techel, 23, is on trial in Scott County, Davenport. He faces charges o

    July 21, 2014

  • Welding academy at Cardinal becomes reality ELDON — Many high school seniors find themselves making the decision to pursue college coursework or enter the work force upon graduation. A new program at Cardinal High School (CHS) eliminates this decision by offering courses that will allow studen

    July 21, 2014

  • Water requires extra caution OTTUMWA — Two area drowning deaths in two weeks have authorities focused on the topic of water safety. The Ottumwa Fire Department's Master Firefighter Bill Keith has trained with watercraft and performed multiple river rescues. This week, he said, h

    July 16, 2014

  • Plea settles kidnapping case OTTUMWA — An Ottumwa man originally charged with kidnapping will not serve prison time after a plea bargain to a lesser charge. Adem Anota received a sentence of one year in jail with credit for time served and the balance suspended after pleading gu

    July 16, 2014

  • 0722 stick horse color photo -L -T -M 4-H Expo encourages creatitivy OTTUMWA — Typically during the 4-H Expo, horses are kept at the horse arena in Ottumwa Park, but Saturday kids galloped around Bridge View Center on homemade stick horses. Children at the expo spent Saturday morning creating their own cowboy vest and

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gunshot victim found dead BLOOMFIELD — A man was found dead of a gunshot wound in rural Wapello County. However, no further danger related to the shooting is expected. Though authorities aren't giving full details of the incident, a press release said at 1:21 a.m. Monday the

    July 21, 2014

  • NEST program educates parents OTTUMWA — With any new job, you typically go through a training period that prepares you for the future. The Wapello County Iowa State Extension Office is offering both first-time and experienced parents helpful training through its NEST program. NES

    July 21, 2014

Photo reprints