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 "water" ...

  • 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.
  • Trashed Trailers

    Contaminated flood waters roared through Northern Colorado mobile home parks in September 2013. When the waters receded, some of the homes were soaked to the rooflines and were knocked from their foundations. Hundreds of the homes were condemned and left to rot and mold for months. Government officials presumed the homes would end up in landfills. However, a six-month 9Wants to Know investigation spanning five counties discovered profiteers were sneaking these mobile homes into new communities, fixing them up without proper building permits and safety inspections, and marketing them to unsuspecting families. 9Wants to Know found government regulators were blindsided by the flood trailer problem due to a tremendous lack of oversight in the mobile home industry. As a result of their investigation, government officials scrambled to identify the flooded homes and bar unsafe housing from their communities.
  • The Putah Creek Legacy

    This series explored the history, impact, and implications of a 25-year, $12 million river restoration project along Lower Putah Creek, a small waterway that runs along the border of Yolo and Solano counties in northern California. Putah Creek has been managed for human use for almost 150 years: a new channel rerouted it around the town of Davisville in the 1870s, levees were erected along it in the 1940s, and a dam halted and diverted its flow in the 1950s. Its story mimics hundreds of other rivers, streams and creeks throughout California. It would be largely unremarkable save for a lawsuit that thrust it to the forefront of restoration ecology.
  • Corruption in Iraq

    Before the Iraqi district of Sinjar in Ninewa province fell into the hands of the Islamic State, foul drinking water was making people sick with preventable diseases. The U.S. tried to fix the problem by digging wells and treatment facilities, but poor oversight and shoddy work from contractors left the area no better than it had started, despite millions of dollars spent in reconstruction money. An investigation into Iraqi efforts to fix the problem after the U.S. withdrew showed that projects remained unfinished, but money for maintenance and fuel continued to pour into the pockets of local officials. In an area where extremists use frustration over corruption to recruit followers. the implications of this corruption couldn’t be more serious.
  • Losing Ground

    Louisiana is drowning, quickly. In just 80 years, some 2,000 square miles of its coastal landscape have turned to open water, wiping places off maps, bringing the Gulf of Mexico to the back door of New Orleans and posing a lethal threat to an energy and shipping corridor vital to the nation’s economy. And it’s going to get worse, even quicker.
  • Product of Mexico

    Americans have grown accustomed to year-round supplies of fresh, affordable fruit and vegetables. “Product of Mexico,” a four-part Los Angeles Times series, made vividly clear the human costs of this abundance. The 18-month investigation found that many farm laborers at Mexican export farms are essentially trapped for months at a time in rat-infested camps, often without beds and sometimes without functioning toilets or a reliable water supply. Those who seek to escape have to contend with guards, barbed-wire fences and threats of violence. Major U.S. companies have done little to enforce social responsibility guidelines that call for basic worker protections such as clean housing and fair pay practices.
  • West Virginia Water Crisis

    On Jan. 9, 2014, a chemical tank at Freedom Industries leaked on the Elk River, just north of the drinking water intake that serves 300,000 people in Charleston, the West Virginia state capital, and surrounding communities. Residents and businesses were ordered not to drink, bathe in or cook with tap water, a warning that remained in place for up to a week. Stories examined the lack of environmental enforcement, inadequate information about the toxic chemicals involved, and poorly planned water quality sampling that was used to decide when the water was again safe to use.
  • The Real Death Valley

    Over the past five years, the remains of more than 400 migrants have been recovered in in rural Brooks County, Texas, some 70 miles north of the Mexico border. Yet no news organization had investigated why these deaths were occurring. Our investigation showed that stepped up border enforcement, interior border checkpoints, a lack of federal funds to support local law enforcement, inadequate emergency water supplies, and inadequate 911 emergency response by the U.S. Border Patrol contributed to this dramatic spike in deaths in what has become one of the deadliest migrant corridors in the American Southwest.
  • A death in restraints after ‘standard procedure’

    The series revealed the needless deaths of three mental health patients at Bridgewater State Hospital, a medium-security state prison for men who have come in contact with the criminal justice system, due to the use of four-point restraints. The series also raised questions about the decision by a district attorney to not pursue criminal charges in one of those deaths, even though it was ruled a homicide. In addition, the series exposed the systemic, illegal use of isolation and four-point restraints -- strapping a patient’s wrists and ankles to a bed -- at a time when officials at similar institutions in other states were sharply reducing their reliance on these tactics, finding that they are physically dangerous and psychologically harmful.
  • Contamination Nation

    The lure of gold helped build the fledgling northern community of Yellowknife, NWT when the Giant Mine site opened in 1948, but that development came at a heavy cost. For more than 50 years, the mine pumped arsenic into the air, contaminating people, water and land. What didn’t go up the stacks was squirreled away in the deep, dark mine shafts below the ground and forgotten, until recently. Today, there’s enough arsenic buried there to kill everyone on the planet, and the federal government is racing to contain the poison before it leeches into life-sustaining land and waterways. It will cost a billion dollars to stabilize the site, and that’s only a small part of the toxic legacy of development.