Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Protect water or advance green energy

The green economy creates a tug-of-war in Northeast Minnesota, where companies seeking mining rights for critical minerals challenge those who want to protect pristine waterways.

Iowa’s toxic brew

The convergence of two rivers in Des Moines, Iowa, is a bullseye illustrating the connection between climate change and toxins in drinking water. Legislation and litigation haven’t worked. So the Des Moines Water Works is getting into the farming business.

FRONTLINE: Environmental programs

From the archives: A recent PBS FRONTLINE program produced in collaboration with NPR and IRW examined the ballooning plastic waste worldwide and what industry experts knew from the outset what was and wasn’t possible to recycle.

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.