Water

JONATHAN AHL / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

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.

Clay Masters / IPR file

Iowa is spending a fraction of what should be budgeted toward improving water quality, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Iowa Policy Project. The group argues state lawmakers should raise taxes in order to put more money toward solutions, but that doesn’t appear to be under consideration just yet.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is predicting more than 38 million acre feet of runoff will go into the upper Missouri River Basin this year, which will be the 6th highest on record in the last 120 years, if reached.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member Brenda Brink of Huxley speaks in front of the Capitol at Wednesday's lawsuit announcement.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

State agencies should be required to take greater steps to improve water quality in the Raccoon River according to a new lawsuit filed Wednesday by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food and Water Watch.

The river provides drinking water for much of the Des Moines area, but it often carries excessive levels of nutrients from the farm fields that drain into it.

Courtesy of Fremont County Iowa Emergency Management

Flooding across western Iowa has damaged levees and forced some communities to evacuate. The floodwaters have even put water treatment systems at risk.

Courtesy of CDC.gov

Iowa environmental officials are working on a plan to find out how many public water systems in the state are having problems with an element called manganese. High levels of this contaminant were recently found in a west-central Iowa city. 

Courtesy of Sarah Haptonstall

A western Iowa city that has been dealing with brown tap water for almost a year says it has finally found a fix.

Pixabay

 

A new investigative series from the Cedar Rapids Gazette shows that Iowa has a long way to go when it comes to clean waterways and reductions in nitrate and phosphorus runoff.

 

Courtesy of CDC / https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/images/dw-static-banner.jpg

After last week’s heavy rain, a small city in northwest Iowa is trying to conserve its drinking water.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s message to Midwestern farmers this week is a mixed bag, telling them that the agency will be changing an Obama-era rule regarding water regulations but is pausing a plan to expand summer sales of ethanol.

Ivy Main / Wikimedia Commons

Nine counties in southwest Iowa have been experiencing a drinking water crisis over the past 10 days after a filtration membrane malfunctioned at Creston Water Works. A boil warning was issued June 1st for the city and all the surrounding towns the water works supplied water for. 

During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with Scott Vicker, managing editor for the Creston News Advertiser and Chris Gordy, store director for the Creston Hy-Vee. 

Madeleine King/Iowa Public Radio

What's the solution to Iowa water quality issues? One approach is to get cities, suburbs, and farms together to find solutions.  In this special edition of River to River, hear highlights from a recent panel discussion held at the Iowa Tap Room in Des Moines.  IPR's Clay Masters moderated the conversation.  

In the summer of 2002, water pumps in Colorado’s San Luis Valley stopped working.

The center pivot sprinklers that coax shoots from the dry soil and turn the valley into one of the state’s most productive agricultural regions strained so hard to pull water from an underground aquifer that they created sunken pits around them.

“This one right over here,” says potato farmer Doug Messick as he walks toward a sprinkler, near the town of Center. He's the farm manager for the valley's Spud Grower Farms. “I came up to it one day and I could’ve driven my pickup in that hole.”

Clay Masters / IPR

City officials in Des Moines and surrounding suburbs met Wednesday to discuss a plan to regionalize how water is produced for customers in the state’s largest metro. West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer says it would be more cost effective for the central Iowa cities to work on producing water together instead of a bunch of separate facilities.

“It’s incumbent then on [the cities] as their own utility to go ahead and handle the water from that point to the residents,” Gaer says.