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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the course of 2020, the Investigative Reporting Workshop produced 20 investigations into subject areas we’ve focused on since we began publishing 11 years ago: Banking, immigration, health and the environment.
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.
The Investigative Reporting Workshop, in partnership with E&E News and NBC News, examines the health of people living in the shadows of U.S. oil refineries.
In a segregated community outside of an Alabama oil refinery, chronic illness tells a story of racial inequality, poverty and disease as U.S. deaths from COVID-19 surpass 300,000.