Ambulance in front of hospital

The Healthcare Divide

FRONTLINE, NPR and IRW examine the market forces and uneven government support that are deepening the healthcare divide, with profits at some hospitals booming, while many safety nets struggle to stay afloat.

water pouring out of pipe

Looming crisis

Energy companies and big industry are drawing vast amounts of water from northwest Louisiana. And the withdrawals are allowing salt water to move in, threatening the main source of drinking water for a growing population of more than half a million.

remains of destroyed water tower

Solving problems now

While climate change has brought an abundance of water to Louisiana from above, it also threatens valuable water below — the groundwater in the state’s aquifers that the majority of the population relies on for drinking water.

industrial plants with smoke

An aquifer at ‘special risk’

The Southern Hills aquifer’s water is clean and pure. Baton Rouge residents brag about its taste. And industries prefer it because it’s cheaper to access than river water, which needs expensive treatment. But the aquifer is being depleted faster than it is being replenished.

man in field next to pipe spewing water

The price? Free, while it lasts

A centuries-old law gives Louisiana landowners “ultimate dominion” over the groundwater beneath their property. That means farmers, manufacturers and homeowners can take as much as they want, when they want it — no fees required.

The water problems

Groundwater levels in and around Louisiana are falling faster than almost anywhere else in the country, according to USGS data and an investigation by IRW and WWNO/WRKF.

empty hallway with walker

Industry lobbying left nursing home patients at risk

The long-term care industry has long used its political influence to push against reforms that would have increased staffing requirements, training, transparency and oversight. Now the industry is pushing for legislation to shield nursing home owners from lawsuits during the pandemic.

Freight cars sitting on tracks

Life in the Toxic Zones

The Investigative Reporting Workshop, in partnership with E&E News and NBC News, set out in 2020 to examine the health of people living in the shadows of U.S. oil refineries.