Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "sewer" ...

  • Free Water

    It seems like a simple process: you use a service, you pay for the service. But not when you are dealing with the city of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management. Most of this entry focuses on a single fancy condominium's startling water and sewer non-payment history and Atlanta's reaction. But the floodgates opened as the reporters continued digging. After finally receiving records the city didn't want them to see, the reporters found even more shocking multi-million dollar billing mistakes on thousands of other properties.
  • Money Down the Drain

    In Money Down the Drain, Northeast Ohio Media Group reporters explored whether there is a less costly, greener alternative to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s $3 billion plan to manage stormwater and sewage by boring giant tunnels beneath the region. The series mapped the district’s history of favoring so-called “gray infrastructure” to comply with federal clean water laws and debunked sewer officials’ claims that green technologies – such as water retention ponds - would inherently be more costly than tunnels. The reporters researched the efficacy of alternative sewer management plans and visited Philadelphia, considered by many to be leading a movement by U.S. cities considering greener solutions to their messy sewage overflow problems. The four-part series concluded with an examination of potential opportunities to transform large expanses of vacant property in Cleveland into park-like stormwater retention features. The team did not set out to prove that green infrastructure is superior to tunnels. Rather, they aimed to expose the district’s failure so far to consider alternatives that officials in other cities believe could save their ratepayers millions – if not billions – of dollars, while driving home to readers just how much the tunnels will cost them. Within a month of the series’ conclusion, sewer district officials announced that they would spend $900,000 on green projects near a major road expansion program and pledged to study the possibility of replacing large stretches of the planned tunnel with green infrastructure.
  • The Scajaquada is a crippled creek

    The story got started in 2013 when reporter Dan Telvock noticed raw sewage in a section of the creek that passes through Buffalo’s prized Delaware Park and a strong urine smell in a section of the creek that runs through Buffalo’s largest cemetery. In May 2013, the state enacted the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act, which for the first time provided a public database of most sewage overflows by locality. This data shows that the most sewer overflows happen in Scajaquada Creek and the biggest offender is Cheektowaga’s sewer system. From there, Telvock used the state Freedom of Information Law to obtain hundreds of documents that detailed Cheektowaga’s sewer overflows, to include volumes and locations.
  • MSD

    Corruption in the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District. The MSD oversees sewer treatment, storm water management and Ohio river flood control for the several hundred thousand people who live in Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky. Throughout the investigation, The Courier-Journal discovered that MSD board members owned companies that they were doing business with the agency they served, excessive bonuses to top officials, and a secret $140,000 lawsuit with an HR chief when he threatened a whisteblower lawsuit.
  • Gambling on Growth

    For years, St. Cloud-area cities have used public financing to pay upfront for improving roads and extending water and sewer utilities to new housing developments. Developers were supposed to pay off the debt through assessments, but many are falling behind on payments, leaving cities to bear the cost.
  • Jefferson County (Ala.) Sewer Bonds: Penetrating the Fog of Municipal Debt

    Until early 2008, no one paid attention to Jefferson County sewer debt. That is when auction-rate-security auctions began to fail and two municipal bond insurers for county bonds were downgraded. Soon, the most populous county in Alabama faced the threat of the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
  • PharmaWater

    "The year-month long project by the AP National Investigative Team found that drugs- mostly the residue of medications taken by people, excreted and flushed down the toilet- have gotten into the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans in at least 24 major metropolitan areas, from Southern California to Norther New Jersey." A follow-up was written after the original series.
  • The Cost of Liability

    "We set out to find how much money cities and schools are paying for accidents. We were looking for two things: 1. Large payouts for accidents that we weren't previously aware of. 2. Trend of accidents caused by city/school negligence."
  • Low Rates Cost E.M. $2 million

    "East Moline, Ill. lost out on more than $2 million over eight years by not charging other municipalities the water and sewer rates approved by aldermen. The city undercharged the municipalities it serves for sewage treatment, and overcharged them for water usage."
  • Cape Utilities

    "Property owners in the City of Cape Coral, FL were being asked to pay as much as $40,000 when public utilities (water, sewer, irrigation) lines were installed in front of their homes." The city paid major profits to one contractor, and then overcharged for the utilities and "ignored millions of dollars in savings."