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Iowa rivers face record nitrate levels following heavy rains

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Iowa rivers face record nitrate levels following heavy rains


Recent heavy rains in Iowa have led to record nitrate levels in the state’s major rivers, prompting concerns over water safety and environmental impacts.

Jared Strong reports for Iowa Capital Dispatch.


In short:

  • Record-high nitrate levels have been detected in the Boone, Cedar, Iowa, and Turkey rivers due to recent heavy rainfall.
  • Des Moines Water Works has reactivated its nitrate removal system as nitrate concentrations in some rivers exceeded safe drinking water standards.
  • State efforts to reduce river nitrate levels through voluntary conservation measures have shown little progress over the past decade.

Key quote:

“This is one of the biggest nitrate leaching events in 11 years.”

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— David Cwiertny, director of the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination at the University of Iowa

Why this matters:

High nitrate levels can lead to increased algae growth in rivers and lakes, reducing oxygen levels and harming aquatic life. These conditions can also pose a threat to public health, as they compromise the safety of drinking water sources, particularly in heavily impacted areas like Des Moines.

Related EHN coverage:



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Iowa

Discover the 6 best burger restaurants in Iowa City, from gourmet to classic delights

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Discover the 6 best burger restaurants in Iowa City, from gourmet to classic delights


The classic hamburger is an American icon. However, not all burgers are made equal. Luckily, Iowa City has an array of creative to classic burgers for everyone’s taste, from unsuspected quality to unexpected flavors.

Here are the six best burgers in Iowa City. 

George’s Buffet 

Arguably, one of the most iconic burgers in Iowa City is the classic bar George’s Buffett. Though buffet is in the name, George’s has a limited menu consisting of a cheese sandwich, hot nuts, chips, and cheeseburgers. While George’s might be best known for cheap beers, the bar also has one of the best burgers in Iowa City. The burger is a no-frills cheeseburger with American cheese, ketchup, mustard, and pickles on a sesame bun. George’s is the perfect burger to end a night or even begin; with every bite, there is a taste of nostalgia. 

Location: 312 E. Market St., Iowa City

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Contact: 319-351-9614

Pullman Bar & Diner

The Pullman is a part of the Gold Cap Hospitality group, and The Mo Burger at Pullman stands out as one of the best burgers in Iowa City because of its combination of flavors and textures. The base is a brioche bun topped with two four-ounce beef patties with a robust taste, and melted cheddar cheese enhances the savory flavor, while the bacon jam adds a sweet and smoky contrast to the subtle heat from the chipotle aioli, which gives a zesty boost. 

Location: 17 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City

Contact: 319-338-1808 or pullmandiner.com

More: From the Bread Garden to NoDo and the Chef’s Board, these Johnson County locales hit the spot

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Red’s Alehouse

Red’s Alehouse might be best known for its expansive beer and cocktail menu, but a strong lineup of burgers anchors the food menu. The Alehouse burger is an elevated rendition of the classic burger with sweet chili aioli, crispy onion tangles, and provolone. The burger has subtle smoky undertones with a gooey, crispy texture. It’s generously sized, and every bite is perfectly balanced.

Location: 405 N. Dubuque St., North Liberty

Contact: 319-626-2100 or redsalehouse.com

Shakespeare’s Pub & Grill

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Located on the east side, Shakespeare’s might be best known for having the best-breaded pork tenderloin in Iowa City, but the pub’s burgers rival the tenderloin, specifically, the bison burger. This burger has subtle sweet flavors with a mild gamey note and is lean and rich. It is an unexpected burger on the menu and a must-try. 

Location: 819 S. First Ave., Iowa City

Contact: 319-337-7275 or shakespearespubandgrill.com

Short’s Burger & Shine

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Short’s Burger & Shine specializes in burgers. The menu features more than a dozen burger varieties with something for everyone. The Dundee burger is a fan favorite with a brioche bun, mushrooms, bacon, garlic aioli, fried egg, and American cheese. It is a textural journey with a surprisingly added earthy pop of flavor from the mushrooms. Additionally, any of Short’s burgers can be made with a black bean patty as a substitute, making Short’s a must-stop for meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

Location: 18 S Clinton St., Iowa City

Contact: 319-259-7154 or shortsburger.com

More: From yoga to rec leagues and fossils, here’s how you can spend the summer in Iowa City

The Wilder

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Recently, The Wilder in the Graduate Hotel in Downtown Iowa City joined the ranks of being one of the top burgers in Iowa. The Iowa Gold Burger is the star of the menu. Made with nine ounces of Jiyū wagyu beef, the burger is not overstated and is rich in flavor. The wagyu beef is complemented by gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and grain mustard aioli. Its richness and tenderness often captivate diners, and many have declared it the best they’ve ever had.

Location: 210 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City

Contact: 319-327-8258 or graduatehotels.com

More: Behind the story of The Wilder’s Iowa Gold burger, one of the best in the state

Jessica Rish is an entertainment, dining and business reporter for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. She can be reached at JRish@press-citizen.com or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @rishjessica_

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Iowa high school girls soccer state tournament 2024: See brackets for all 3 classes

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Iowa high school girls soccer state tournament 2024: See brackets for all 3 classes


The Iowa girls high school soccer season is winding down, which means it’s almost time to crown a state champion in all three of the state’s classes.

On Thursday, the field for the state tournament was set with 24 total teams punching their ticket to Des Moines for the state tournament. But by the end of next week, only three will remain, having earned the title of state champions.

The tournament kicks off on Tuesday, May 28, in Des Moines. The entire tournament, which wraps up on Saturday, June 1, will be held at the Crownie Sports Complex.

More: Iowa high school boys soccer state tournament 2024: See brackets for all 4 classes

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Class 3A

Tuesday, May 28-state quarterfinals

  • 3 p.m. -No. 1 Waukee Northwest vs. No. 8 Ankeny Centennial
  • 3:15 p.m. – No. 4 Linn-Mar vs. No. 5 West Des Moines Valley
  • 3:30 p.m.- No. 2 Pleasant Valley vs. No. 7 Bettendorf
  • 3:45 p.m.- No. 3 Ankeny vs. No. 6 Waukee

Thursday, May 30-state semifinals

  • 3 p.m. TBD vs. TBD
  • 3:15 p.m. TBD vs, TBD

Saturday, June 1- state championship game

Class 2A

Tuesday, May 28-state quarterfinals

  • 12:30 p.m. -No. 1 North Polk vs. No. 8 Lewis Central
  • 12:45 p.m. – No. 4 Pella vs. No. 5 Iowa City Liberty
  • 1 p.m.- No. 2 Waverly Shell-Rock vs. No. 7 North Scott
  • 1:15 p.m.- No. 3 Dallas Center-Grimes vs. No. 6 Cedar Rapids Xavier

Thursday, May 30-state semifinals

  • 12:30 p.m. TBD vs. TBD
  • 12:45 p.m. TBD vs, TBD

Saturday, June 1- state championship game

Class 1A

Tuesday, May 28-state quarterfinals

  • 10 a.m. -No. 1 Davenport Assumption vs. No. 8 Dike-New Hartford
  • 10:15 a.m. – No. 4 Nevada vs. No. 5 Hudson
  • 10:30 a.m.- No. 2 Denver vs. No. 7 Council Bluffs St. Albert
  • 10:45 a.m.- No. 3 Bishop Heelan vs. No. 6 Treynor

Thursday, May 30-state semifinals

  • 10 a.m. TBD vs. TBD
  • 10:15 a.m. TBD vs, TBD

Saturday, June 1- state championship game



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Torrential rains alleviate drought but cause wastewater discharges • Iowa Capital Dispatch

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Torrential rains alleviate drought but cause wastewater discharges • Iowa Capital Dispatch


Severe drought is now gone from eastern Iowa. (Courtesy of National Drought Mitigation Center)

Drought conditions in Iowa have improved to their least severe in about two years thanks to abundant rainfall in recent weeks, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

In a Thursday report, all “severe” drought in the northeast part of the state was downgraded to “moderate,” the lowest drought classification.

The last time there was no severe drought in Iowa was March 2022.

About a third of the state is still at least abnormally dry, and about 21% has moderate drought. The latest Drought Monitor report did not take into consideration all of the precipitation from severe weather that swept the state on Tuesday.

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Heavy rain leads to wastewater bypasses

About 40 cities reported wastewater bypasses from their collection systems that day, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“The city received 5 inches of rain and was forced to bypass from manholes,” a report about Newton in central Iowa said.

Old or poorly maintained sewer pipes — along with antiquated systems that purposefully carry wastewater and stormwater together — can be inundated by heavy rain.

Some cities deliberately pumped wastewater out of their systems to avoid sewer backups into basements, DNR records show. In others, the wastewater overflowed from their treatment systems.

Those bypasses can result in untreated or partially treated wastewater going into the state’s streams. On Wednesday, the DNR warned people to avoid floodwater that could be contaminated.

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The department said it has received more than 130 reports of bypasses since the start of April.

The statewide average precipitation was 4.16 inches that month, which is about a half inch more than normal. Average rainfall so far in May totals more than 6 inches, according to Iowa State University data.



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