Water

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.

Clay Masters / IPR

This summer, officials in Iowa have been asking farmers to voluntarily reduce the amount of fertilizer they use. That’s because the fertilizer contains nitrates that are being washed into state waterways and creating environmental concerns locally and nationally. The runoff has been particularly bad this year, and the outcry over typical crop practices is growing. To find if Iowa farmers are complying with the government’s request, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters followed the water trail.

Chad Johnston/ iamthechad / Flickr

Houses in Iowa are taking on water from yesterday's heavy storm, but even if basements aren't flooded homes can still be damaged by moisture.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert Bill McAnally about the problems moisture can cause, as well as danger signs and what to do if a home has been effected by moisture or storm damage. Also, McAnally talks about preventing moisture problems when building or renovating a home.

Peter Roome

Last week a man was killed in a boating incident on the Cedar River, and over the weekend a man had a close call while trying to rescue a child on Clear Lake.  What are the rules and what are the good and bad ideas on the water?  Also, hear about preventing recreational water illnesses.

Denise Krebs / flickr

Many of Iowa's rivers and lakes are unable to support recreation and fishing and are in need of restoration. Governor Branstad's proposed budget cuts funding for restoration projects. Today on River to River, we talk with the Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, as well as people in communities impacted by the cuts.

Stefan Ray / flickr

Water, it’s there when you turn on the faucet, or the sprinkler, it’s in the plastic bottles at the convenience store and washes away down the storm sewers when it rains.  On today's Talk of Iowa, we give this life giving substance some of the thought it deserves with Charles Fishman, best-selling author of “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water."

Also, UI assistant professor and researcher, Craig Just, joins us to talk about an effort to monitor river runoff by attaching sensors to river mussels.

Tom Woodward / Flickr

     

Like many Midwestern states, Iowa is closing the 2012 calendar year with soil moisture deficits after this summer's drought. But with the new crop year at least four months away, Iowa State University Climatologist Elwynn Taylor is seeing some spotty

Taylor credits abundant fall rains with helping mitigate the drought, at least for now.

Gas prices are at record highs for this time of year, and experts predict the rise won't be ending soon. We'll examine what's driving current crude oil prices and what it means for Iowa's economy with the Iowa Department of Agriculture's Harold Hommes and Creighton University Economics Professor Ernie Goss. Later, the Iowa DNR has been surveying groundwater supplies across the state. Results indicate some Iowa cities need to start planning immediately to drill new wells or to pipe in water from new resources.