Wikicommons / Patsy Lynch, FEMA

The City of Waterloo has agreed to pay a total of $272,000 for violations of the Clean Water Act, pending a 30-day public comment period and approval by a federal court.

The city was accused of discharging untreated sewage into the Cedar River and its tributaries, which allowed repeated backups of sewage-laden wastewater into homes and other buildings. Waterloo was also accused of failing to properly operate and maintain its sewage treatment and collection systems.

Under terms of the settlement, Waterloo does not admit any wrongdoing.

Shever / Flickr

The University of Iowa's Center for Global, Regional and Environmental Research has been studying climate change in Iowa and around the world for 25 years this year. 

Greg Carmichael, co-director of the center and professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa, says public opinion has come a long way since the center's founding and that climate change deniers are "dead wrong" about the facts. 

Ripley Entertainment

Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the organization that collects and exhibits oddities from all over the world, has a new book Eye Popping Oddities that highlights a few Iowans.

Edward Meyer, Vice President of Exhibits and Archives, has been traveling the world collecting unusual stories and artifacts for more than three decades. 

"If you look at page 230 in the  new book, we have a photo of a guy who collected his fingernail clippings for over 10 years and sent me a paper weight made of them," he laughs. "It's probably buried under paper." 

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Despite the fact that the legislature has increased state funding for water quality initiatives by millions of dollars since the 1980s, we haven't seen substantial improvements since then.

That’s according to Keith Schilling, who researches water for the Iowa Geological Survey.

“I recently looked at 50 rivers’ nitrate levels. Only six had changed since 1980, and those increased in nitrate concentration,” he says.

General Dynamics Electric Boat / U.S. Navy

There is a new USS Iowa. The Virginia-class nuclear-power fast-attack submarine was named Wednesday afternoon at Iowa State University’s Memorial Union.  It is the third naval vessel to have this name.

Harvest Public Media file photo by Kristofor Husted

Some of the nation's largest farm groups are cheering after a federal judge blocked implementation Thursday of new rules governing water pollution.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a preliminary injunction delaying the rules, which had been set to take effect Friday, saying that the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped its bounds. Thirteen states sued the agency, seeking to prevent implementation, and Erickson said the "states are likely to succeed in their claim."

Food Companies Face Water Risk

May 9, 2015
Photo by Amy Mayer/IPR file

America’s biggest food production companies face a growing threat of water scarcity, according to a new report from Ceres, an environmental sustainability group.

The report cites pollution as one of the primary culprits.

Farming can be a major contributor to water pollution through runoff from chemicals and manure. Because food companies depend on clean water, they have an incentive to help farmers keep water in mind.

Clay Masters / IPR

  The state’s largest water utility is restarting its nitrate removal equipment because levels of the pollutant are spiking in the rivers Des Moines uses for drinking water. 

The Des Moines Water Works recently sued three northwest Iowa counties (Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties) saying water from agricultural drainage districts contributes to the high level of nitrates. 

Iowa DNR

Water use in Iowa has climbed 72% since the 1970’s, and according to state officials, current usage rates are unsustainable. 

Eric Durban/Harvest Public Media file photo

The High Plains Aquifer lost enough water over a recent two-year period to cover the entire state of Iowa in a foot of water.

John Marvig

A proposal to modify the Clean Water Act from the Environmental Protection Agency will face stiff opposition come January, says U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.  That’s when both the House and the Senate will be held by the GOP.

Grassley and other Republicans have spoken harshly against the Waters of the U.S. rule, which would increase federal oversight of U.S. waterways.

Proposed changes to the Clean Water Act have some Midwest farmers worried that, if enacted, they could be subject to additional regulation. 

:::Derek::: / flickr

Washington, Ia.'s sewer system was made in the 1870s; and in 2011, repairs cost the city around $20 million.

The head of a major environmental organization will lead  a new initiative to get farmers to comply with water quality standards.     But other  environmentalists are skeptical the new standards will work as long as they remain voluntary.    

Jim Pease

So far this summer, wildlife biologist Jim Pease has paddled hundreds of miles down Iowa’s waterways to gather biological data for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Today on Talk of Iowa, he shares his experience.

Chris Tomlinson / Geograph

Ebola and algae scares hit in Western Africa and Toledo respectively this week. The threats may feel far away, but they hit home closer than you think.

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Anne Pham, in charge compliance and enforcement of the drinking water program at the Department of Natural Resources. She explains what made the water in Toledo undrinkable and how we can protect Iowa water.

Iowa State University Extension / Performance Based Watershed Management Project

Water quality has been a problem in Iowa since the late 1800s. To improve it, where do we start?

Rita Dvorak

Iowa’s water quality hadn’t nudged much since the 1980s. That’s according to Iowa Geological Survey research scientist Keith Schilling.

Iowa's Rising Waters

Jul 8, 2014
Amy Mayer / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa’s rivers and reservoirs have not reached flood stages of 1993 or 2008, but many communities are still dealing with significant flooding.

Wikimedia Commons

After pulling a few all-nighters netting, sorting and spawning fish, Iowa’s fisheries supervisors are ready for a break. They’ve spent the last month working to ready the more than 100 million walleye fry, fish less than 2 inches in size, that get stocked into Iowa’s lakes and rivers every year.

Farmers are hopeful improvements are coming to the Midwest river system, which is crucial for shipping grain, in the form of the Waterways Resource Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). After years of work on the bill, Congress recently smashed together separate bills passed by each chamber and sent the White House a new $12.3 billion water infrastructure bill with bipartisan support. President Obama has yet to state whether he plans to sign the bill. The legislation authorizes improvements such as deepening ports.

Todd Ehlers

Put heat, light, water and nitrogen together and you get lakes and ponds that are choked with plant growth.  It's Horticulture Day and host, Charity Nebbe, talks with Allen Patillo, Iowa State University Extension Fisheries and Aquaculture Specialist about aquatic plant management.  Later in the hour ISU Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron and DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh join the conversation to answer listener questions about plants and trees. 

John Pemble / IPR

  National leaders, governors, mayors and tribal leaders met in Des Moines this week for a task force meeting that will make recommendations to the White House this fall. IPR's Clay Masters talked with Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie about what those recommendations might look like.   

Sandy McCurdy / Sandy McCurdy Photos

Last spring, flooding destroyed 19 percent of trumpeter swan nests in Iowa.  Then in the fall many of the juveniles, or cygnets, died from drought.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife research technician Dave Hoffman says modification of Iowa’s watershed causes this severe weather.

“Wetlands…act as sponges to clean and hold the water in the spring, but also…hold the water in the fall (to) provide the moisture we need.”

Frederic Rivollier

"Since the beginning of 2013, there has been a huge increase in the sale of really simple UAV systems," says Rory Paul, CEO of Volt Aerial Robotics, based in Chesterfield, Missouri.

With their ability to take high definition photo and video footage, UAVs (known as "unmanned aerial vehicles" or drones) bring up a number of security concerns, and they also have the potential to be put to good use. The Iowa legislature is currently considering ways to regulate these vehicles; so today on River to River, we analyze this legislation.

Property of John Little.

While most of us were enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers, 61-year-old Iowa City resident John Little was completing his 13th Ironman Triathlon in Cozumel, an island off the Yucatan Peninsula.

An Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, followed by a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and ends with a marathon, which is a 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run. There are no breaks between each leg of the race. Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Little to discuss his extreme hobby, which he took up at the age of 55.

Clay Masters / IPR

 Iowa homeowners and municipalities can use urban wetlands to capture nutrients that pollute state waterways and improve water quality. That’s according to a new report out Wednesday. But researchers say it would only be a small part of improving the state’s water quality.

The amount of pollution municipalities put into the state’s rivers and streams are regulated. This new report from the Iowa Policy Project documents what else cities and homeowners to reduce polluted storm runoff. 

Alan Light / Flickr

Since its beginning, the conservation movement has been focused on preserving the natural places we still have, but Joe Whitworth, president of the Freshwater Trust, says that is not good enough.  Host Charity Nebbe talks to Whitworth about his work restoring freshwater ecosystems, how he believes that clean water can co-exist with profitable agriculture, and the future of conservation.  

Jimmy Emerson / jimmywayne / Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer gets the latest on news from around Iowa.  MidAmerican Energy gives an update on the power outage which left almost 40,000 Des Moines-area residents in the dark. IPR's Joyce Russell discusses changes to the problematic Toledo Juvenile Home.  The DNR has a new report which looks at drought conditions in Iowa.  Also, Dubuque native Brooks Wheelan joins the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

Clay Masters / IPR

The Gulf of Mexico is the largest hypoxic zone currently affecting the United States. Today on Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on water quality in Iowa and the connection our state has with the Gulf. We take a look at Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy as a conservation plan.

Today's guests include: Iowa Public Radio reporter Clay Masters, Bill Stowe, the CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works, Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, and John Lawrence, the Associate Dean in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University.