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" ...

  • Hollywood Sting

    When the FBI raided the offices of California State Sen. Ronald Calderon in June 2012, the state’s news media had little idea of what was really going on. Some reporters immediately speculated that the raid was related to links Calderon had with a Southern California water district. But they were wrong. Indeed, no one knew the extraordinary story behind that FBI raid until Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit obtained, through confidential sources, a 124-page sealed affidavit that laid out the government’s case against the embattled senator. In its series, titled “Hollywood Sting,’’ Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit exposed the sordid tale of Sen. Calderon’s alleged bribery and corruption and brought viewers and readers inside the unfolding narrative of an elaborate FBI sting. The network devoted more than an hour of on-air coverage to the story and published its findings on Oct. 30, 2013. The story prompted a “leak’’ investigation by the U.S. Justice Department into how Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit obtained the secret affidavit. DOJ announced the inquiry the day after we broke the story. Just last week, a special agent for DOJ’s Office of Inspector General contacted James Wedick, a former senior FBI supervisor who was interviewed for the story. The investigator sought to question Wedick about Al Jazeera correspondent Josh Bernstein’s contacts in the bureau. The investigator also contacted a lawyer representing Al Jazeera.
  • Sewage Leaks

    This entry includes three articles stemming from Daveen Rae Kurutz's investigation into illegal sewage dumping by the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority. During a seven week period, the authority discharged about 30 million gallons of sewage waste into Turtle Creek in Murrysville, Pa.
  • Hosed!

    “Hosed” was an investigation on a controversial water services contract proposed between the City of St. Louis and the multinational French corporation Veolia. There were several concerns here, especially given that the deal was done very quietly. The first concern was that the contract was gained through political cronyism, second that the main goal of the contract was a secret plan to privatize city water, and third that as a result of the contract, the city water division would be slashed to bare bones both in terms of staff and safety standards. The latter concern was raised based on the reputation of Veolia in other markets.
  • How Washington Starves Its Election Watchdog

    Born in the Watergate scandal’s ashes, Congress created the Federal Election Commission as a bulwark against political corruption and champion of transparency and disclosure. But a six-month investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, "How Washington Starves Its Election Watchdog," showed the agency is so fractured by partisan politicking and bereft with staffing and funding woes that it is “rotting from the inside out.”
  • Abuse in G4S' prison exposed in South Africa

    Global security firm G4S runs a prison for profit in Bloemfontein, South Africa. I work for the Wits Justice Project, a collective of investigative journalists who research the criminal justice system. I visited the prison for the first time in September 2012 and talked to some of the inmates who had written to us. Their tales were worrying; they complained about the ‘Ninjas’; the Emergency Security Team (EST), a group of about eight armed men who are called to emergency situations. They are supposed to use minimum force, but according to the prisoners, they went completely overboard. They would take prisoners to the single cell unit, strip them naked, pour water over them and electroshock them with the electronically charged shields they carry with them. Also, the inmates told me how they would be injected forcibly with anti-psychotic drugs, while some of them did not suffer from any mental illness. In addition, they spoke to me about very lengthy isolation, some were placed in isolation cells for up to three years, I spoke to approximately 70 inmates and 25 warders over a period of a year, but these three sources were most crucial: The general. One of the inmates, a general in one of the infamous prison gangs, supplied with me dossiers and names of inmates who had been electroshocked, forcibly injected or placed in isolation for unlawful periods (up to 3 years). The deep throat. A government official who had worked at the prison was very concerned and had written a report in 2009 listing 62 inmates who had been placed in isolation up to 3 years, some of whom had been denied life saving TB and HIV medication. he also compared the prison to Guantanamo bay and mentioned excessive electroshocking The freedom fighter. A warder and informal labour union leader was very helpful in providing an entry with other warders and he leaked interesting information. An anonymous source eventually provided the smoking gun: video and audio footage of a forced injection and audio of electro shocking. I wrote three main stories about the prison and chose to publish in South Africa as well as in the UK, as G4S is head quartered there. I wrote pieces for the South African Citypress and the Mail and Guardian, simultaneously running a story in the British Guardian. When I finally broke the big story on the electroshocks and the forced injections, I also worked closely with the BBC and the South African investigative tv programme Carte Blanche, I provided them access to the results of my year-long research and they produced tv items that were broadcast at the same time as my stories ran in the newspapers. This in turn led to a worldwide coverage of the issue.
  • Aquifer at Risk

    In the series “Aquifer at Risk,” The Desert Sun revealed significant declines in groundwater levels in the Palm Springs area and exposed how water agencies in the California desert haven’t adequately addressed the problem of falling water tables. Through an analysis of water agencies’ records, the newspaper found that the aquifer’s levels have plummeted over the years despite imported flows of water – a situation that poses serious long-term risks for an area that has sold itself as a desert oasis for tourists and retirees. The series examined the causes and impacts of groundwater depletion in California, and pinpointed groundwater pumping by golf courses as a major contributor to the problem in the Coachella Valley. The series prompted the area’s largest water district to make a major policy shift, led to the formation of a golf water conservation task force, and magnified concerns that California’s approach to managing groundwater has serious flaws.
  • Water Watch Wisconsin

    Water Watch Wisconsin, a joint project of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television, is examining the quality and supply of Wisconsin’s water, which is increasingly subjected to human and climatic influences. A guiding question, throughout the project: Is this trend sustainable? Water is one of Wisconsin’s greatest treasures. The state is home to about 15,000 lakes, has more miles of Great Lakes coastline than any state except Michigan, and has underground reserves in four major aquifers.
  • Farmers vs. fish: Wisconsin's groundwater crisis

    Across central Wisconsin, in a region known as the Central Sands, residents have watched water levels in lakes and small streams drop for years. In a state with about 15,000 lakes and more than a quadrillion gallons of groundwater, it is hard to believe that water could ever be in short supply. Experts say, however, that the burgeoning number of so-called high-capacity wells mostly for irrigated agriculture, is drawing down some ground and surface water.
  • Botswana: Diamond Hopes, Diamond Blues

    After diamonds were discovered 50 years ago, Botswana transformed itself from one the poorest countries in the world to an “African Miracle,” complete with one of the highest GDPs on the continent and stable democratic governance. This allusion of harmonious prosperity, however, is threatened by drastic changes to its geography. Rapid development has led to rapid desertification, marked by eroded land, dried rivers, deep boreholes, and the expanding Kalahari. Semi-arid and landlocked, Botswana is no stranger to droughts and low rainfall. Soon, it will be one of the first countries to experience the evaporation of its already limited groundwater supply, according to the World Economic Forum. What exhausts the water supply and threatens Botswana’s fragile ecosystems are exactly its most vital economic sectors. Livestock production, communal and commercial, expands further and further into the Kalahari Sandveld, uncontrolled and often encouraged by the government. As a result, boreholes are drilled 200 meters deep across the desert landscape of overgrazed vegetation. Meanwhile, Botswana’s diamond mines, accounting for more than a third of the national GDP, extract great amounts of water at no cost. Unrestricted, the mines continue to drain the aquifers and, in the process, limit the access rights of small farmers and minority tribes.
  • No Small Thing: An investigative series on Lyme disease

    This series – testament to the power of a small newspaper, the Internet and analytical reporting -- is viewed widely as an influential force and agenda setter for Lyme disease nationwide. In eight installments in 2012, No Small Thing delineated problems of testing for and treatment and tracking of Lyme disease. In 2013, the newspaper, using 3,000 pages of government emails obtained under FOIA, exposed ties between government officials and outside scientists that influenced Lyme policy and limited debate – the installment submitted here. In 2013, the series also reported evidence that physicians are rejecting controversial guidelines, documented the death toll from Lyme disease using a database of deaths covering 13 years and drove a watershed year in the endemic. In 2013, the CDC revised contested annual case counts tenfold; investigated long-ignored deaths, and invited reform advocates to an unprecedented, high-level meeting. Three Lyme-related bills are pending in New York, where a task force has been convened. Another is pending in Congress.