Courtesy of CDC

State environmental officials have started testing the state’s public water supply systems for an emerging chemical of concern.

Kate Payne/IPR

Scientists are urging Davenport officials to factor in climate change as they debate future flood protection plans. Some analysts say this year’s historic flood levels could’ve been much worse.

John Krzton-Presson / Iowa Master Gardener Program

This year the Iowa Master Gardener Program celebrates 40 years of community engagement through gardening initiatives and educational outreach. Since 1979, over 14,300 Iowans have received master gardening training. 

Kate Payne/IPR file

Eastern Iowa residents will have a chance to weigh in on flooding, drought and navigation on the Mississippi River at public meetings this month. Events are slated for this Saturday in Muscatine and July 27th in Dubuque.

Ryan D Riley / Flickr

Water quality is one of the greatest environmental challenges in the state of Iowa. There are many sources of pollution and finding and implementing solutions is complicated. Jim Pease, Emeritus Associate Professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University, developed an exercise designed to spark problem-solving creativity when it comes to water quality.

Valerija B / Pixabay

Hot and cool, wet and dry, Iowa weather can be inconsistent and the changes dramatic, which can negatively impact plants. On this Hort Day edition of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with horticulture experts about how the heat of an Iowa summer affects our plants. And we get some advice on watering strategies to keep your plants happy and healthy. 

Also during the program, Charity and our panel of horticulture experts answer listener questions on all things green and growing.

Guests include:

Kate Payne/IPR file

The city of Davenport is taking a deeper look at this year’s historic floods and the city’s handling of them. A task force of residents, business leaders, local officials and scientists met for the first time this week, kick-starting a formal review process.


Starting Monday there's a new director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. After serving as Gov. Kim Reynolds legislative liaison, Kayla Lyon will become the agency's first female leader, after the department has gone over a year without a permanent leader in place.

Anna / Unsplash

On this Hort Day edition of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens in Ames about how you can get the most out of your roses and how to pick the right plants for your landscape.

Don Graham/flickr creative commons

Iowans now have a new way to find out about private drinking water wells in their area. A team of researchers at the University of Iowa has built an interactive online map for residents, engineers and well drillers to better access well location and water quality information.


A new analysis shows Iowans may face higher risks of certain health issues due to nitrate pollution in drinking water. Across the country, thousands of cases of certain cancers and birth defects may be linked to the contaminant, researchers found.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

Extreme weather, including flooding and tornados, has been topping the news in Iowa and the Midwest. But the number of extreme weather events in the region may be even more numerous than we're able to recall. 

Kate Payne/IPR

Some business owners in downtown Burlington are pumping out river water after a temporary floodwall broke Saturday. It’s the second such breech this year for Iowa cities on the Mississippi.

Charity Nebbe

This program originally aired on July 18, 2017.

Rivers are a vital part of Iowa's ecosystem.

“Rivers in Iowa are the most important corridors of habitat, the ribbons of habitat, that we have left," says  wildlife biologist Jim Pease.

Over the past four summers Pease has paddled 1800 miles of Iowa rivers. On these trips he’s learned a lot about habitat, water quality, and human impact on the water ways. 

Wikimedia Commons

We survived the polar vortex and just had a cool damp spring, but now that the weather seems to be catching up with the season, many of our trees look like they are still lagging behind. If you've been asking yourself "What's wrong with my trees?" this spring, rest assured you are not alone.

Kate Payne/IPR

An eastern Iowa conservation group is taking an unconventional approach to tracking rare turtles on its land. Iowa Public Radio tagged along with a man who’s trained his hunting dogs to find the reptiles for researchers. Counting the creatures will help conservationists manage the land better.

Katie Peikes / IPR

An environmental group has bought a vast property in western Iowa’s Loess Hills. The purchase will allow them to preserve native prairie.

CHRISTINE WARNER HAWKS/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Des Moines Water Works is putting pressure on state regulators to clean up contamination at a nearby military base. In letters to the state Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, the utility called the chemicals a public health concern.

Kate Payne/IPR

The floodwaters have largely receded in Davenport, weeks after the Mississippi River crested at its highest level on record and flooded parts of downtown. The city is known for its progressive approach to flooding, giving the river more room to ebb and flow while other communities build walls. But the recent flooding is testing this philosophy of resilience.

Reunited: Wildlife Rehabber Brings Mother And Babies Back Together

May 20, 2019
Charity Nebbe

Wildlife rehabilitator Heather Bedard of Waterloo recently got a phone call about six baby raccoons that a homeowner had removed from a nest on his property. She asked him to help her reunite the babies with their mother and, although he initially refused, he eventually humanely trapped the mother.

The babies had been separated from their mother for four days, and Bedard was worried that the reunion would not go well. Turns out, she didn't need to worry.

"As soon as the babies made noise the mom perked up and you could tell she was frantic," Bedard says.

UNMIT /Martine Perret / Flickr

Early this month the UN's Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released a summary of an upcoming 1,500-page report, where it states that one million plants, insects and animal species are on the verge of extinction.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Reporters in 14 newsrooms across the Midwest teamed up with InsideClimate News to explore local solutions to climate change.

The American Midwest is at a turning point as it confronts the global climate crisis. It's a landscape of opportunity, where investment is starting to pour into renewable energy, farmers are turning to climate-friendly practices, and automakers are introducing new electric vehicles. But its path forward is still cluttered with obstacles.

Kate Payne / IPR

Researchers and advocates have billed agricultural soil management as a powerful tool to capture and sequester carbon from the atmosphere and counteract global climate change. A coalition of international scientists has said the world must take drastic action in the coming years to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, steps that will rely on key industries like agriculture. But on one farm in central Iowa, a scientist’s greenhouse gas research is leading to tough questions about how to manage her own land.

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Smith

The UI's museum staff are offering to photoshop confetti into graduation photos for free, to encourage students to stop littering. 


Students across the country and across the globe are stepping out of their classrooms to demand action against climate change, including decreasing carbon emissions, supporting alternative energy sources and implementing climate change curriculum into schools. 

Kate Payne

Scientists at Luther College in Decorah have found signs of disease-causing bacteria and parasites in some northeast Iowa waters. The findings could be a concern in an area known for ecotourism and water recreation.


Animal waste and nitrogen-based agricultural fertilizers contribute to nitrate runoff, which ends up in creeks, streams, rain and, eventually, water systems. Nitrate, that mix of nitrogen and oxygen, can cause serious health problems if it’s too concentrated.

The best defense is filtering, which forests are great at doing. But a new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service suggests forests are falling behind, and heavy rains brought on by climate change are making it worse.

Environmental Working Group / Iowa Public Radio

A survey of state data shows thousands of private wells in Iowa have been contaminated with nitrates and coliform bacteria. Under state law, most of Iowa’s private wells don’t have to be tested, and don’t have to meet water quality standards, leaving the residents who rely on them especially vulnerable.

Helaina Thompson / Iowa Public Radio

This conversation originally aired on June 29, 2017.

Iowa’s lakes play a huge role in the communities that have grown up around them. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe takes a tour of Lake Delhi, open for the first full summer boating season this year after the dam burst due to heavy rainfall in 2010. We’ll hear from Steve Leonard, President of the Lake Delhi Recreation Association, and the engineer who is spending part of his retirement maintaining the dam.

Kate Payne / IPR file

The Upper Mississippi has been named the third most endangered river in the country, according to the national conservation group American Rivers, due to the practice of communities unlawfully building up levees.