WIUM Tristates Public Radio

water

A new report suggests the Environmental Protection Agency should consider lowering the legal limit in drinking water for nitrates, a chemical often connected to fertilizer use.

People who drink water with elevated, but not illegal, levels of nitrates could be at an increased risk of kidney, ovarian and bladder cancer, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group asserts. But a University of Iowa researcher who studies nitrate contamination says the connection to cancer is inconsistent and other chemicals may be involved.

Getting Ready to Replace Lead Water Lines

May 8, 2017
T.J. Carson

Galesburg aldermen approved a contract with J.C. Dillon of Peoria for $1.7 million to do the first phase of a lead water service line replacement program. The work is scheduled to begin next month.

Fred Knapp for Harvest Public Media

A proposal that would jumpstart the chicken business in one Midwestern state has some residents concerned about the potential impact on the environment. They're trying to block or delay its construction.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

With the legal battle raging over the implementation of controversial Obama Administration clean water rules, the next president will likely face the daunting task of formulating a comprehensive plan to cut-down on water pollution from Midwest farms.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

When farmers put nitrogen fertilizer on their fields, it soaks down into the soil and turns into nitrates that feed crops. But when there are too many nitrates, water from rain or irrigation carries those extra nutrients past the point where roots can reach and eventually to the aquifer below.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Standing on a platform above the eastern bank of the Missouri River at the Kansas City, Missouri, Water Services' intake plant is like being on the deck of a large ship.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a gray day, just as the rain begins to fall, Roger Zylstra stops his red GMC Sierra pick-up truck on the side of the road and hops down into a ditch in Jasper County, Iowa. It takes two such stops before he unearths amid the tall weeds and grasses what he's looking for.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

Living in the Platte River Valley in central Nebraska means understanding that the water in your well may contain high levels of nitrates and may not be safe to drink.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Contaminated drinking water isn't just a problem for Flint, Michigan. Many towns and cities across the Midwest and Great Plains face pollution seeping into their water supplies. A big part of the problem: farming and ranching.

Galesburg made headlines this year when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined the city failed to meet federal standards for lead levels in the drinking water at some residences.  City leaders have consistently said the city's water supply is not to blame -- rather, it is the lead service lines that connect some homes to the city's supply that are contaminating the water.

Shane Balkowitsch/Wikimedia Commons

A little over 850 miles west of Macomb a war is being waged over something that is necessary to all life on earth.  Water. 

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Few things are more valuable to a farmer in the arid West than irrigation water. Without it, the land turns back into its natural state: dry, dusty plains. If a fast-growing city is your neighbor, then your water holds even more value.

T.J. Carson

Federal regulators suggested the city provide bottled water or filters to residents affected by high levels of lead in their drinking water.  The U.S Environmental Protection Agency also urged the city to pay for testing of lead for all water customers who request it.

Galesburg Leaders Address Lead Response

Apr 21, 2016
City of Galesburg

Galesburg's mayor believes city leaders have done what has been asked of them regarding lead in the tap water supply.

Tainted at the Tap – Galesburg

Apr 10, 2016
City of Galesburg

This railroad town promotes its ties to Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and the poet Carl Sandburg. But Galesburg's long history also shows in a hidden way: Aging pipes have been leaking lead into the drinking water for decades.

Common Questions about Testing for Lead in Water

Apr 10, 2016
Rich Egger

A federal rule that took effect in 1991 is designed to protect the public from unsafe levels of lead in drinking water. Some answers to common questions about how it works: